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Hardrock gold project greenlighted by Canada’s Environment Minister

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada. Photo by Chatham House, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, said this week that if mitigation measures are taken, Greenstone Gold Mines’ Hardrock gold project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

The project consists of the construction, operation, decommissioning, and abandonment of an open pit gold mine and onsite metal mill located near Geraldton, in northern Ontario.

Following a review of the Environmental Assessment Report and the comments received from Indigenous peoples and the public, McKenna decided to support the proposal. In her Decision Statement, the government official establishes 116 conditions to protect fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, human health, the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, physical and cultural heritage, and species at risk, and includes mitigation measures and requirements for a follow-up program that the proponent must fulfill.

“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. Our government is working to protect the environment while supporting projects that create good middle-class jobs,” the Minister said in a media statement.

A historic headframe at Premier Gold Mines’ Hardrock gold project in Ontario. Photo by Premier Gold Mines.

Greenstone is required to manage effluent and surface water quality, undertake progressive reclamation of the land, minimize emissions of dust and airborne contaminants, and provide access routes to lands used for traditional purposes.

Following McKenna’s approval, the Oakville-based miner will be required to obtain additional authorizations and permits from federal departments.

Greenstone Gold Mines is a 50/50 partnership between Centerra Gold and Premier Gold Mines for the joint ownership and development of the Hardrock and other properties in Ontario.

Hardrock is a contiguous block of ground and consists of 292 patented claims, leases and Licenses of Occupation covering approximately 5,148.3 hectares, and 39 unpatented mining claims covering 10,128 hectares for a total approximate area of 15,276.3 hectares.

The open-pit operation is expected to have a mine life of almost 15 years and it is forecasted to produce 4.2 million ounces at 1.02 g Au/t.