Seabridge Gold has begun electronic filing of its provincial Application for an Environmental Assessment certificate and its federal Environmental Impact Statement for its 100%-owned KSM gold-copper-silver project with the British Columbia and Canadian governments. The KSM (Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell) property is located in the Iskut-Stikine River region of northwest British Columbia, 65 km northwest of Stewart, British Columbia.
Current planning for KSM is based on estimated proven and probable reserves of 38.2 million oz of gold in 2.164 billion mt at an average grade of 0.55 g/mt gold. A near-surface, higher-grade gold zone at the Mitchell deposit will allow average annual gold production of 830,000 oz/y during the first seven years of operation. Life-of-mine production over a 55-year mine life is expected to average 508,000 oz/y.
The environmental filing process for the KSM project will be completed when Seabridge delivers printed copies of the 25,000-page document that were being prepared in early February 2013. The Application/EIS submission addresses the initial requirements of the joint harmonized environmental assessment process as outlined by the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1992).
Seabridge Chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk said, “The Application/EIS document represents nearly five years of effort and approximately $146 million in expenditures to design an environmentally sound and economically rewarding project. We are very proud of the work by our personnel and our first-class team of consultants. We are confident that our Application/EIS materials demonstrate that the KSM project, as designed, is environmentally responsible as well as technically and economically feasible.”
Seabridge has undertaken an extensive public consultation process related to KSM development. In general, public feedback on the project has been positive, and input from the consultation process has been used to make significant design changes to the project, including:
- Isolating and lining a portion of the proposed tailings management facility to contain tailings from the precious metals carbon leach circuit;
- Shifting from open-pit to underground panel cave mining in the later years for the Mitchell deposit and also block caving the Iron Cap deposit. Underground mining is expected to reduce waste rock storage by more than 2 billion mt;
- Implementing a state-of-the-art water treatment strategy to maximize environmental protection; and,
- Removing planned surface infrastructure associated with the Mitchell Treaty Tunnel and placing it underground to minimize surface disturbance and facilitate wildlife access.
“In our view, the consultation process has helped improve the design of the project, including some innovative, industry-leading responses to evolving standards in such areas as water quality,” Fronk said.
Exploration drilling is ongoing at the KSM project, and the new, high-grade Camp zone discovered during the summer of 2012 has potential to add to the project’s economics. Seabridge has budgeted $15 million for its 2013 KSM exploration program, which is designed to enhance its understanding of the Camp zone while also pursuing several highly prospective copper-gold core zone targets.