Marathon says Berry addition does not require new impact assessment

31st August 2023

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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Changes to the Valentine gold project to accommodate an openpit will not require a new impact assessment, which means that the permitting of the Berry complex can proceed as previously anticipated, Toronto-listed Marathon Gold said on Wednesday.

Permitting includes an environmental assessment (EA) of a “new undertaking” by the provincial regulator and a modified decision statement by the federal regulator. Marathon said it expected these processes to be completed during 2023 and 2024, well in advance of the scheduled commencement of mining at Berry in the second quarter of 2025.

In September 2020, Marathon submitted an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Valentine project to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Climate Change, EA Division, (NLDECC) pursuant to the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Protection Act, respectively.

The scope of assessment for the EIS included two mining pits and related infrastructure (the Marathon and Leprechaun complexes), a processing plant, a tailings management facility, and associated site facilities.

The Valentine project was released from the provincial EA process on March 17, 2022, and the federal EA process on August 24, 2022.

Mine construction started in October 2022, and permitting for specific site activities has continued throughout the mine development process in accordance with the construction schedule. At the end of June 30, 2023, overall permitting progress stood at 89% complete.

In December last year, Marathon released results of an updated feasibility study for Valentine based on the addition of a third openpit and associated infrastructure at the Berry complex. 

Marathon filed EA registration materials for Berry to the NLDECC and IAAC on August 11, following the completion of an effects assessment and consultation with both the provincial and federal regulators, Indigenous groups, communities, and stakeholder organisations.

The Berry complex is subject to regulatory review requirements to identify, assess and mitigate potential environmental effects during all project phases, including construction, operation, decommissioning, rehabilitation and closure, and post-closure. Provincially, the addition of the Berry complex is considered a new undertaking requiring a provincial EA. This EA has now commenced with the filing of registration materials. Federally, and as now confirmed by IAAC, the addition of the Berry complex is considered a change to the designated project referenced in the August 2022 decision statement of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, and potential amendments to the decision statement will now be considered.

However, IAAC has informed Marathon that the Minister is not permitted to amend the decision statement to change the decision itself, and no new impact assessment under the terms of IAA will be required.

The addition of the Berry deposit significantly improves the project’s projected production profile. In terms of direct, high-grade ‘mill feed’ (ore with a cut-off grade of 0.7 g/t gold), Marathon is forecasting 195 000 oz/y over 12 years, compared with 179 000 oz/y over nine years, previously.  All-in sustaining cost (AISC) will average $1 007/oz. In the first three years, production will average 200 000 oz/y at an AISC of $890/oz.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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