TORONTO (mingweekly.com) – Two joint venture (JV) partners with plans to build the C$650-million to C$750-million Gahcho Kué diamond mine, in Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT), on Monday celebrated the local authority’s positive decision on the project’s environmental-impact assessment.
Fifty-one per cent JV shareholder De Beers Canada COO Glen Koropchuk said the approval was an "important step forward", and 49% partner Mountain Province Diamonds’ CEO, Patrick Evans, added that completing the environmental review was a significant milestone.
The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board has approved the proposed 4.5-million-carat diamond mine, subject to measures and follow-up programmes.
The ‘Environmental Impact Review and Reasons for Decision’ report for the Gahcho Kué project, released on Friday, had found the project was likely to cause “significant adverse environmental impacts” and the panel set out measures required to mitigate such impacts.
This included reducing the impacts of the mine site and winter access road on caribou and its habitat, as well as to reduce the project’s contribution to the cumulative potential effects on the caribou population.
The panel called for follow-up programmes to address the impacts on water, fish, caribou, other wildlife and species at risk and socioeconomic components.
The JV partners said they were reviewing the report to better understand the implications for the operation of the measures and follow-up programme the panel had recommended, adding that they were eager to proceed to the next stages in the regulatory approval process.
The project entails dewatering portions of Kennady Lake to access the three openpits, then backfilling one openpit and portions of a second openpit with waste rock and processed waste material from the mill, before refilling Kennady Lake at end of mine life and allowing fish to repopulate the lake.
The Gahcho Kué partnership’s project at Kennady Lake, 280 km north-east of Yellowknife, would provide between 360 and 380 permanent jobs in the region during its 11-year operational life, swelling to about 700 people during construction.
NWT is also host to the significant Ekati and Diavik diamond mines, owned by two of the biggest mineral resource companies in the world, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.