A New Gold open house in Burns Lake last week took a different approach to linking with the local community. The May 8, 2013 information session regarding the Blackwater Gold Project, approximately 110 kilometres southwest of Vanderhoof, was preceded by an afternoon community workshop that brought out several Lakes District Secondary School students, Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold, and members of the local chamber of commerce.
Many open houses have come through Burns Lake since last September, each as part of proscribed community consultation for proposed resource projects.
Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold described the importance of involving local youth in the development of these projects.
“It was important to have the youth participate so that they could learn about the project and provide their input to community sustainability,” said Strimbold.
New Gold has been particularly active in developing its community relationships. Members of the Blackwater Project held an open house in Burns Lake just this past fall.
“This is an opportunity for people to learn more about the project and for us to learn more about community interests,” said New Gold Director of Environment and Sustainability, Tim Bekhuys. “Hearing people’s perspectives helps us design and build a project that benefits the entire region.”
The project, which is still in the pre-application stage of its environmental approval application with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, has already resulted in a large cash influx within the region.
In 2012, New Gold spent $100 million, regionally, during intensive exploration.
Although there is an expected decrease in expenditures for 2013 with exploration gearing down, things may ramp up again quickly by 2015 if environmental assessments are successful. The project is subject to both federal and provincial environmental review.
Pending the results of those reviews and assuming economic viability doesn’t change, mine construction could start in 2015.
“Following the environmental review process New Gold expects to hire 1000 to 1500 workers during [mine] construction and 500 full time workers to operate the mine,” said Kathie LaForge from the Blackwater Project office in Vanderhoof, B.C.
New Gold reports that approximately 65 First Nations members were employed as environmental monitors, geological field assistants, camp attendants, camp cooks, kitchen helpers, labourers, lab technicians, and core cutters. First Nations contracts have amounted to over six million dollars.
The New Gold Blackwater project is expected to have an approximate 20 year working lifespan before closure and reclamation. New Gold is a B.C. based mining company with four mines operating in Canada, the U.S., Australia and Mexico.
The New Afton mine near Kamloops, B.C. is a New Gold project. The New Afton mine has often been credited as a large part of the low unemployment in the Kamloops area.