Blackwater gold project, Canada – update

25th August 2023 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Blackwater gold project, Canada – update

Photo by: Artemis Gold

Name of the Project
Blackwater gold project.

Central British Columbia, Canada.

Project Owner/s
Artemis Gold.

Project Description
A feasibility study has shown several positive changes in the approach to the planned development of the Blackwater project, compared with the prefeasibility study (PFS) completed in 2020. 

Phase 1 throughput has been increased by 9%, from 5.5-million tonnes a year in the PFS to six-million tonnes a year in the feasibility study, with a larger crushing circuit providing greater operational throughput upside potential in the early years.

The accelerated Phase 2 involves an expansion to 12-million tonnes a year, ramping up to nine-million tonnes a year in Year 5, with full Phase 2 throughput expansion achieved in Year 6.

The increased production in years 1 to 5 supports a 29 % increase in average gold production over the first five years of operation, to 321 000 oz/y.

The Phase 2 expansion has been simplified and is to be achieved with only minor modifications to the existing Phase 1 crushing, stockpile and ball mill feed system. The second ball mill will operate in series with the Phase 1 mill. The rest of the plant circuits will be duplicated (gravity concentration, leaching, adsorption, elution and cyanide destruction) or expanded. Minor upgrades will be undertaken on some infrastructure to accommodate the increased throughput.

Phase 3 involves expansion to 20-million tonnes a year, ramping up to 15-million tonnes a year in Year 10, with full Phase 3 expansion achieved in Year 11.

The increased production in years 1 to 10 results in a 5% increase in the average gold production, to 351 000 oz/y of gold.

The Phase 3 expansion will require a new process line, from primary crushing to cyanide destruction, although a carbon elution circuit will not be needed, as the Phase 1 and 2 units will have sufficient capacity, with the lower ore-grades in Phase 3.  
Mining operations are proposed to cease in Year 17, with stockpiled ore rehandled and processed through the process plant in years 18 to 22. The decrease in mine life, from 23 years in the 2020 PFS to 22 years in the feasibility study, is a direct result of the increased throughput rate and production during the first ten years of the mine life in the feasibility study.  

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
In the base case, the project has an after-tax net present value, at a 5% discount rate, of C$2.15-billion and an internal rate of return of 32.1%, with a payback of 2.3 years. This compares with an after-tax net present value, at a 5% discount rate, of C$2.25-billion and an internal rate of return of 35%, with a payback of 2.2 years in the PFS.

Capital Expenditure
Between C$730-million and C$750-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2022, putting the project  on track to develop into a new tier-one gold operation in the first quarter of 2024.

Latest Developments
The Blackwater mine remains on track for its first gold pour in the second half of 2024, despite the temporary slowdown because of wildfire activity in July.

Project developer Artemis Gold temporarily reduced the number of nonessential staff and contractors because of an uncontrolled wildfire reaching the immediate vicinity of the mine site.

Damage to property was minimal and construction activities resumed in early August, with more than 400 people back on site.

Artemis says that while it is not making any changes to its initial capital expenditure guidance for the project, it is assessing the impact of the wildfire on its estimates.

Any cost impact depends on factors such as contractual remedies and insurance recoveries available to the company and its contractors.

The initial capital to complete to first gold pour is estimated to range between C$730-million and C$750-million, of which the company had incurred about C$186-million by the end of June.

Artemis chairperson Steven Dean has stated that the project remains fully funded and is about 27% complete.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Ausenco Engineering Canada, with the support of Knight Piésold, Moose Mountain Technical, Allnorth Consultants, Lorax Environmental Services, ERM Consultants and JAT MetConsult (feasibility study).

Contact Details for Project Information
Artemis Gold, tel +1 604 558 1107 or email