ST. MARY’S – As it awaits government approvals, Atlantic Gold now says its proposed gold mine near Sherbrooke won’t become operational until at least 2028, adding two more years to the opening of the already postponed project.
Meanwhile, the firm’s parent company – St Barbara of Perth, Australia – has hired a new President Americas to facilitate progress at all of its divisions across Nova Scotia, including Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream near Sheet Harbour.
Meryl Jones, St Barbara’s former Head of Business Development, is expected to relocate to the province shortly.
The news comes as St Barbara announced last week a massive $248-million write down for fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, due to the uncertainty over its Atlantic operations, which account for just more than a third of its $742 million in global annual revenues.
According to the press release, “Initial production from Cochrane Hill was expected to commence in [the third quarter] of [fiscal year] 2023. The delays in the permitting process for Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream, coupled with the pending decision on the suitability of Archibald Lake as a suitable water course, has resulted in first production from Cochrane Hill now expected in [fiscal year] 2028.” Jones, it added, will “lead efforts in North America to accelerate permitting and construction of future operations.”
Despite the delays, Atlantic Gold Communications Manager Dustin O’Leary told The Journal in an email that the company remains “committed to working with provincial and Canadian government regulators to expedite this process and grow our operations,” adding that St Barbara spent more than $700 million to buy Atlantic Gold in 2019.
Regarding Jones’ appointment, he said, “[She] played a key role in the acquisition and integration of Atlantic Gold Corporation into St Barbara and, prior to COVID, spent a considerable amount of time with the Atlantic Operations teams on-ground in Nova Scotia.”
Earlier this year, O’Leary told the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s council’s committee of the whole that the timeline for the development of the Cochrane Hill gold mine project had been “pushed back [from a production start date in 2023] to an anticipated opening in 2026 … primarily due to the need to focus on the sequencing of all of the expansion projects and specifically our efforts to advance Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream.”
Scott Beaver – president of the St. Mary’s River Association and organizer of the No Open Pit Excavation (NOPE) campaign, which is fighting to keep Atlantic Gold out of the environmentally sensitive watershed – said news of the additional delay is positive.
“We will continue to push hard not just to delay, but to stop St Barbara altogether,” he wrote in an email. “SMRA will continue to seek resources from a myriad public and private donations so we can enhance and expand on improvements to the habitat of the St. Mary’s River and surrounding valley.”
O’Leary said Atlantic Gold’s operations, once approved and functioning, “will see the injection of $1 billion into the economy of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia with 800 citizens employed over the next seven years.”
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal