Quesnel city council heard an update from the Osisko Development on where the company is along their environmental assessment process for their Barkerville Gold Project during their Tuesday, Feb. 15 meeting.
The President of Osisko Development, Chris Lodder, led the presentation and said he anticipates the project will receive a decision on if they’ll be given a certificate of approval in the fall of 2022.
Much of council’s questions centred around the project’s plans to build a 69 kV power transmission line. The line will mostly run along West Fraser forestry roads.
Councillor Scott Elliott wanted to know why the transmission line didn’t run alongside the Barkerville Highway.
François Vézina, the project’s Senior Vice President of project development, said there was many issues, including Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure right of way, and issues with BC Hydro.
“The second (reason) that’s really important is there are burial sites from the Lhtako Dené Nation on the side of the road, that makes it impossible,” Vézina said.
“We’ve had that information in the last couple of months, and have added that in the application.”
While Osisko needs to commit to government to take down the power line after the project ends, Lodder noted if a municipality wanted to take over the power line after the mine’s lifespan is over, that might be a possibility. Construction of the line could begin in late 2023.
Elliott also questioned why the mine site will be so far away from the QR Mill. Vézina said the project wanted to keep any tailings pond away from Wells.
Lodder said Barkerville Gold already has a signed agreement with the Lhtako Dené First Nation and is currently negotiating with Xatśūll First Nation and Williams Lake First Nation.
Osisko guesses the project will bring 460 additional jobs to the area, and 75 per cent of their workforce will be from the Cariboo region. More than 50 per cent of that workforce is anticipated to be living in Quesnel, with a 200 room+ “hotel-style” camp set to be built in Wells.
“We’re initially going to try people in the camp, but as people settle in, and it eventually becomes more stable for them, they’re going to start looking for their own place,” Lodder said.
“Quesnel’s going to be a key factor in this.”
The company’s estimate of $5 billion in economic activity in the province is based on a mine lifespan of 15 years, but Osisko is hoping the mine will last even longer than that.
“There’s no bottom yet, there’s no end to the extensions of mineralizations we see,” Lodder said.
“The potential for having this last for decades more is very high, the reason we invested in this project, is we see longevity in it.”
Simpson said at the end of the presentation he was hoping to set up a more formal meeting between the City of Quesnel, District of Wells and Osisko to see how they could improve housing and amenities in the area for that new workforce.
“We already have a housing crunch,” Simpson said, noting that when a mine employee’s child begins organized sports, they’ll probably end up moving to Quesnel.
“(We’re shifting) from trying to stimulate growth and make the investments associated with attracting residents, to managing growth, and getting insight from our major employers about the kind of investments that help you attract and retain a workforce.”
A graduation ceremony for the first class at the underground mine program at the College of New Caledonia’s Quesnel campus will be held on Friday, Feb 18.
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