Residents should get another chance to comment on an upcoming Wells mining project as part of the province’s environmental assessment process.
Alex Callahan is a spokesperson for the Cariboo Gold Project. The project is being planned by Osisko Development. They already operate the Barkerville Gold Mine in Wells, adding the studies to expand Osisko’s Wells operations began in spring of 2016.
“You’re not starting from zero,” Callahan said. “You have local expertise, which helps.”
The project moved out of the planning phase in April. Callahan said they expect to submit a more comprehensive application in the middle of June, with further public engagement planned for the rest of the summer. The submission will include a detailed description with everything from expected impacts on water and wildlife to the project’s affects on traffic.
“COVID has made these things more complicated,” he said. “On the other hand, you can open these events up for people who don’t have to leave their homes. It kind of cuts both ways.”
The company has also set up a feedback line for non-formal comments on the project.
The province introduced a new environmental assessment process in 2018 and one of the requirements is a plain language component.
“This project is one of the first going through this new environmental assessment process, and Osisko has been very pleased with the degree of engagement from the EAO in terms of guidance and community input, demonstrating this new process is effective, responsive and timely,” Callahan said.
Environmental assessment documents can span thousands of pages, with a plain language component making it easily understood by the public.
“It is extremely technical,” Callahan said. “I was looking at one environmental assessment document and there were three pages of acronyms. It’s intense.”
Callahan said environmental assessments ensure affected communities can make an informed decision.
“There’s a lot of material that’s out there, and I think the plain language stuff is important so people can see this, and talking about what it means to Wells and the district,” he said.
He said the expanded project could employ up to 370 new workers in the region.
“This is going to be the biggest investment in the region in a long time,” Callahan said. “The contribution to the tax base of the town, let alone the employment is going to be good, long term, stable jobs that have licensing and accreditation. They come with benefits, these are real good family supporting jobs.”
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