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Province approves early works permit for Artemis Gold’s Blackwater project

PRINCE GEORGE – The province has approved a Mines Act permit that allows for early works at Artemis Gold Ltd.’s Blackwater Gold project in central British Columbia.

The approval of the early works permit is the first step required for mine construction, allowing for the necessary site preparation and land-clearing work to begin.

“Advancing the Blackwater Gold project will help unearth the massive economic potential in B.C.’s Cariboo region,” said Premier John Horgan, in a news release. “Mining and mineral exploration are a foundational part of our economy and will help us build a stronger and more sustainable British Columbia where the benefits of our recovery reach everyone.”

The Blackwater Gold mine is estimated to be the largest mine development project in the Cariboo region of B.C. in the last decade, supporting regional employment over 25 years, including the construction period, with a potential life of mine extension through further exploration. Blackwater Gold is to be connected to the BC Hydro grid, which is powered by hydroelectricity, providing it with a sustainable source of low-carbon power, with the potential to produce gold and silver with one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions from an open pit in the world.

“We welcome the development of the new Blackwater gold and silver mine,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “It will create high-earning, long-term jobs, advance Indigenous reconciliation and supply some of the most responsibly mined gold and silver in the world, exemplifying British Columbia’s environmental-social-governance advantage.”

An economic impact study completed by KPMG on the Blackwater Project in November 2020 forecast the project will create 457 direct full-time jobs per year over the 23-year operating life of the mine, with 825 direct full-time jobs per year created during the construction/expansion phases of mine development. Additionally, the mine is expected to contribute $13.2 billion to the provincial economy over its lifetime, including $2.3 billion to provincial revenues.

“We would like to thank the Government of British Columbia, the Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation and Ulkatcho First Nation for continuing to demonstrate strong support to advance the Blackwater Project forward on its path of becoming the next major new gold mine in British Columbia,” said Steven Dean, chairman and CEO, Artemis Gold Inc. “The approval of the early construction works permit is another sign that British Columbia is open for business for responsible mineral exploration and development.”

The province signed an economic and community development agreement with the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations to share mineral tax revenue in 2020. Prior to that, an impact benefits agreement was signed in 2019 with the mine’s owners and the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations for the Blackwater Project. Since acquiring the project in 2020, Artemis has continued to develop relationships with Indigenous partners, notably by signing an impact benefits agreement with the Nazko First Nation in May 2021 and ongoing negotiations with the Carrier Sekani First Nations on an impact benefits agreement.

The development of the Blackwater project has the potential to provide long-term economic benefits, and Artemis is working with these Nations to bring training, business development and employment opportunities to each of these Nations’ communities while also advancing Indigenous reconciliation.

“The Blackwater Gold project is in the heart of our traditional territory. We have been actively engaged in all aspects of the project – from mineral exploration, the environmental assessment and now into permitting,” said Chief Liliane Squinas of the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation. “As partners with Artemis, we are excited about the employment, economic and business opportunities available to our Nation. We look forward to strengthening our relationship as we work through the rest of the permitting process, ensuring that the environmental commitments are met.”

Chief Lynda Price of the Ulkatcho First Nation said: “The Ulkatcho First Nation is proud to be active participants in the Blackwater Gold Project. Our community has been engaged in the project since its inception. While we are in favour of the mine due to its economic benefits, as the traditional stewards of our land, our top priority is the environment. We look forward to working through the full permitting of the mine to ensure that the impacts to our Nation are properly mitigated so that all wildlife species, such as caribou, are protected, as they are so vital to our culture. This project has a large number of conditions attached to its environmental assessment certificate. We will be sure that these are fully met through the permitting process.”