A proposal for a $1.25-billion open-pit gold mine on Geraldton’s doorstep has been submitted for an environmental review with the support of four nearby First Nation communities that could benefit from the project economically.
“We have given (the proponent) our blessing,” Aroland First Nation Chief Dorothy Towedo said in an earlier interview.
Greenstone Gold Mines’ plans for the proposed mine are under review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Ontario’s Ministry of Environment.
Public comments must be received by Oct. 6.
Greenstone Gold is a partnership between Thunder Bay’s Premier Gold Mines and Toronto-based Centerra Gold.
The company says it has “written support” for the project’s environmental assessment submission from Aroland, as well as Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek, Ginoogaming and Long Lake First Nations. The Metis Nation of Ontario is also supporting the project, the company said in a news release.
Towedo said potential economic impact agreements - which can result in jobs and/or royalties for Indigenous people - are still in the process of being negotiated.
Relations between the mine proponent and Aroland haven’t always been congenial.
Aroland had earlier opposed the plan over a proposal to dump rocky waste from the mine into a lake. But the project has since opted for a more conventional tailings facility.
The $1.25-billion price tag for the proposed open-pit mine seems high compared to some other Northwestern Ontario projects. But a feasibility study indicated that the capital outlay would be paid off in less than five years.
The mine is projected to operate for 14 years and is expected to create about 200 direct jobs. It would require moving a portion of the existing Highway 11 corridor.
According to the feasibility study presented to investors last fall, the project is based on a gold price of US $1,250 per ounce, a little less than where the price is today.
“We’ve been told that they could still make money (after the mine started operating) even if the price fell below that,” Greenstone Mayor Ron Beaulieu, who supports the project, said in an earlier interview.
The feasibility study said the operation is based on overall operating costs of $780 per ounce.
Adding to the startup costs would be a requirement by the company to build a natural-gas fired generator because there isn’t enough existing hydro infrastructure near the mine to provide it with enough power.
Beaulieu said the municipality has been lobbying the province to install a 230-kilovolt power line in Greenstone.
That would give the mine the electricity it needs, provide a stable source of power for all residents and also create a power link to future development in the Ring of Fire mining belt, Beaulieu said.
Comments can be submitted online at greenstonegoldmines.com/documents.