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Gold mine developer gets federal EA approval for Geraldton open-pit operation

Two northwestern Ontario mine projects receive federal environmental assessment approvals
Greenstone Gold
Site of Greenstone Gold's Hardrock Project, south of Geraldton.

Greenstone Gold Mines has gotten federal environmental assessment (EA)approval of its Hardrock gold mine project in northwestern Ontario.

Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced Dec.13 that the Hardrock Gold Mine Project is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The 15,000-hectare Hardrock property is a proposed open-pit gold mine and processing mill located on Highway 11, two kilometres south of the town of Geraldton. Planned production is 30,000 tonnes of ore per day.

Greenstone Gold Mines is a joint venture partnership between Centerra Gold and Premier Gold Mines. 

The company’s documents, submitted to the federal government, covered the construction, operation, decommissioning, and abandonment of the mine and mill.

Greenstone Gold is now awaiting word from Queen’s Park on the provincial environmental assessment, expected during the first quarter of 2019.

The mining company’s plan is to have all permit approvals required to start major construction in place by the middle of 2020.

Greenstone Gold has 116 conditions to meet, including protection of fish and wildlife habitat, minimization of dust and airborne emissions, and providing access routes for traditional Indigenous purposes. More approvals and permits will be required from other federal departments. 

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is responsible to ensure all conditions are met under the 2012 federal environmental assessment act.

"My decision is based on rigorous scientific evidence, expertise from federal departments and extensive consultations with the public and Indigenous groups and includes conditions that will ensure there are mitigation measures to reduce the risks of environmental effects,” said McKenna in a statement.

Premier executive chairman John Begeman said in a company news release that the federal EA approval represents a major milestone in the project’s development.

“Our engagement with representatives of the local Indigenous communities, local communities, and the various government agencies has been very positive throughout the process and we look forward to continued advancement of the project.”

The company reported that work on its construction permit application is underway and will be filed for review once the federal and provincial EA’s are approved. 

A definitive agreement with Long Lake #58 First Nation was signed earlier in 2018 and the company is negotiating agreements with other Indigenous communities in the area.

Greenstone Gold has also turned to financial advisors to identify various financing options that may be available for the project.

To the west, yet another open-pit gold mine project is rounding into form.  

Last month, McKenna signed off on the federal environmental assessment for the Hammond Reef Gold Project, near Atikokan.

Agnico Eagle owns the advanced stage gold project, covering 29,225 hectares.

The proposed open-pit gold and mill operation is located 23 kilometres northeast of the town.

Agnico Eagle acquired the property last year from Yamana Gold, which had been placed on care and maintenance, as part of a US$162-million deal involving a package of gold exploration properties in Northern Ontario.