After significant and collaborative discussions during the third quarter of 2018 among Centerra Gold, British Columbia regulators and First Nations, the regulatory plan for the Mount Milligan mine in north central British Columbia has been refined. This has resulted in earlier than anticipated approval of certain short-term water sources. These approvals also allow the company to pump from groundwater wells within Mount Milligan’s tailings storage facility (TSF) as well as from a single groundwater well outside of the TSF for the entire life-of-mine, and pump up to 15% of the base flow from Philip Lake 1 until November 15. An application to further extend the pumping from Philip Lake 1 for the winter period is currently under review as planned.
The company is also preparing applications for certain additional and extended water sources until 2020. These include access to groundwater wells outside the TSF for the entire life-of-mine as well as to Philip Lake 1 and Rainbow Creek at withdrawal rates that are protective of environment. The company is still in discussions with regulators, First Nations and other affected stakeholders as to such approvals and expects that access to these sources may be granted as early as December.
The company is also working on a long-term solution to its water needs at Mount Milligan. Formal applications and government review of the company’s methodology is expected to commence later this month, and will be the subject of discussion with regulators, First Nations and other interested parties. The company’s expectation is that its long-term water source will be available from and after 2020 for the entire life-of-mine.
Centerra noted that the recently approved water sources will provide limited amounts of additional water in the near-term and this will assist with, but not meaningfully reduce, the water needs of the mine. During the third quarter to date, with the current availability of water, the mill at Mount Milligan has been operating both ball mill circuits.