Public comments invited on proposed Eastern Shore gold mine

·3 min read
The open pit of the Touquoy gold mine is seen amid the surrounding forests in Moose River, N.S. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)
The open pit of the Touquoy gold mine is seen amid the surrounding forests in Moose River, N.S. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)

The federal environmental assessment agency and Nova Scotia's Environment Department are inviting the public to give feedback on a proposed gold mine on the province's Eastern Shore.

Atlantic Gold wants to develop the Beaver Dam gold mine in Marinette, N.S., 18 kilometres northwest of Sheet Harbour.

A public comment period opened Tuesday and will run until Dec. 16. People can make their submissions here.

The federal Impact Assessment Agency of Canada will host an information session about the project, the assessment process and how to submit comments on Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. More information about how to register for that can be found here.

Steve Lawrence/CBC
Steve Lawrence/CBC

According to the latest environmental impact summary for the project, which was submitted to assessors last month, the Beaver Dam site would include the open pit, mining and crushing operations, waste-rock storage, and treatment facilities for surface water runoff and mine discharge water, which would include settling ponds.

The footprint of all mining operations at the site would be 243 hectares, with 34 hectares on Crown land.

If approved, construction of the mine would begin next year, and production would begin in 2023 and end in 2027.

Ore from the open-pit mine would be trucked 30 kilometres to the company's existing gold mine in Moose River for processing. The transportation of ore would mean about 95 round trips per day, 350 days per year, along new roads as well as existing roads that will be upgraded.

Steve Lawrence/CBC
Steve Lawrence/CBC

During earlier steps in the environmental assessment process, the public raised concerns about leaching, noise, effects on water, wetland, wildlife, and Mi'kmaq use of land, the impact of truck traffic, the use of cyanide, and tailings disposal.

As part of its submissions to the assessors, the company analyzed a wide variety of possible impacts, such as noise, greenhouse gases, water quality, fish, flora, fauna and birds. It concluded that "the project is not expected to result in any significant residual adverse environmental effects once mitigation measures have been applied."

The company says the project will create jobs and generate economic activity, including tax revenues and royalties.

Company facing environmental charges

Beaver Dam is one of four gold mine projects in the province that are proposed or already being operated by Atlantic Gold. The company, owned by Australian firm St Barbara, runs Nova Scotia's only operating gold mine, the Touquoy mine in Moose River. Two other projects, the Cochrane Hill mine and the Fifteen Mile Stream mine, are in the environmental assessment process.

Atlantic Gold is facing 32 environmental charges, including "failing to comply with the conditions of an approval" and "releasing substances into the environment in amount, concentration or level in excess of approval level or regulations."

The alleged offences took place between February 2018 and May 2020, and mostly involve the Touquoy operation, but also other locations, including Fifteen Mile Stream, Jed Lake and Seloam Brook.

The company is scheduled to be back in court on Nov. 29 to make a plea.

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