VICTORIA, B.C. – Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced today that AuRico Metals Inc. has been given an environmental assessment certificate for the proposed Kemess Underground mine.
Kemess Underground is a proposed underground copper-gold mine in the northwestern corner of the Peace River Regional District, near the source of the Finlay River in the Omineca Mountains, approximately 400 kilometres west of Fort St. John.. The $683.9-million project is slated to produce approximately 24,650 tonnes of ore per day over a 13-year period and is approximately six kilometres north of the existing infrastructure from the Kemess South mine that operated from 1998-2011.
Kemess Underground is the third project to be granted a certificate following a substituted environmental assessment, where the Environmental Assessment Office conducts a single process that meets all federal and provincial requirements. The federal minister and provincial ministers make separate decisions on whether to approve the project based on the environmental assessment report prepared by the Environmental Assessment Office.
There are 33 conditions that are part of the environmental assessment certificate. Among the key conditions required by AuRico Metals to implement include:
- Establishing an Environmental Monitoring Committee to share information and discuss topics of interest to Tse Keh Nay and government agencies.
- Monitoring surface water and groundwater quality.
- Treating effluent from the tailings-storage facility until it is acceptable for release into the environment.
- Developing a Wildlife Management and Monitoring Plan to address effects on caribou, birds, bats and alpine species.
In addition, AuRico Metals Inc. proposed a number of significant design changes prior to and during the environmental assessment, based on feedback received from the Tse Keh Nay First Nations, local governments and the public:
In addition to federal environmental assessment approval, AuRico Metals will require federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed. The Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with other government agencies to ensure that the office is satisfied that certificate conditions are met.