Gold mine near Stewart granted environmental assessment certificate

The province has decided to issue an environmental assessment (EA) certificate to IDM Mining Ltd. (IDM) for the Red Mountain Underground Gold Project (Red Mountain).

IDM proposes a 147.2-hectare underground gold and silver mine, located approximately 18 kilometres northeast of the District of Stewart in the Nass Wildlife Area, as defined in the Nisga’a Nation Final Agreement and in the asserted traditional territory of Tsetsaut/Skii km Lax Ha (TSKLH).

Red Mountain is expected to extract 1,000 tonnes of ore per day, with a net annual production of 365,000 tonnes per year, during the mine’s six-year operational life.

Having considered the Environmental Assessment Office’s (EAO) Assessment Report and the recommendation of the executive director of the EAO to issue a certificate, the ministers are confident that the project will be constructed, operated and closed in a way that ensures no significant adverse effects are likely to occur. A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the Reasons for Ministers’ Decision online: https://www.projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/p/red-mountain-underground-gold

In addition to the 38 conditions that are part of the Red Mountain EA certificate, design requirements are specified in the certified project description, which are legally binding requirements that IDM must meet to maintain compliance with the certificate. The conditions were developed following consultation and input from Indigenous groups, government agencies, communities and the public. IDM is required to obtain other federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed with construction of the project.

Key conditions for the project require IDM to:

* develop a human-health monitoring and management plan to monitor, mitigate and notify of contaminants of potential concern in the environment and in foods that are harvested in the wild;

* develop a wildlife management plan to assess, monitor and address impacts to wildlife throughout the life of the project;

* develop a social effects management plan to monitor and address impacts related to housing, health and medical services and economic opportunities, and do so in consultation with the community;

* conduct monitoring of mountain goat populations and mitigate potential impacts, including impacts from avalanche control and aircraft operations activities;

* develop an aquatic effects monitoring plan to monitor impacts to aquatic resources; and

* consult with the Nisga’a Nation on the implementation of the requirements of the certificate for all phases of the project and during any care and maintenance periods.

In their reasons, the ministers emphasized the mitigation of potential social effects within the community of Stewart as a result of a sudden and substantial increase in population due to Red Mountain. The ministers have required a number of social effects and management conditions to ensure that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur.

The EAO consulted with Nisga’a Nation, represented by Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG), in accordance with obligations triggered under Chapter 10 of the Nisga’a Nation Final Agreement. The EAO and NLG frequently discussed issues and concerns, refined the methodology for assessing impacts on Indigenous Interests and worked iteratively on the proposed conditions. The EAO provided funding to NLG to participate in the environmental assessment process.

The EAO shared information and advised TSKLH of key milestones, shared information specific to TSKLH for their review and comment, considered all information provided by TSKLH and reflected this in the assessment of potential impacts to their asserted Indigenous Interests.

Construction of the new mine is expected to create 103 direct full-time equivalent local jobs during the 18 months of construction, with an additional 72 direct jobs generated in British Columbia. Direct project expenditures on construction are estimated to total $93.5 million within B.C.

During operations, IDM predicts that Red Mountain will generate 13 direct full-time equivalent local jobs, with an additional 20 direct jobs generated in the province. Total purchases of goods and services during operations are estimated at $167.6 million.

The EAO and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency conducted a co-ordinated EA. This co-ordination resulted in the development of a provincial assessment report and a federal comprehensive study report to support separate provincial and federal decisions, respectively. A federal decision on whether to issue a certificate is pending.