PORT AUX BASQUES – Matador Mining, the Australian corporation that is developing the Cape Ray gold mining project in the Southwest coast, provided an e-conference update to that project to members of the media, town council and staff on Monday morning, Aug. 17.
The corporation revealed that it has 12 million dollars to continue exploration this year and next year of the 120 km of Cape Ray shields. The robust project is expected to last for roughly 10 years and produce 10 million ounces of gold.
Although the company operates out of its Perth, Western Australia office, presenters Ian Murray and Keith Bowes say they have brought back many of the same people from last year.
“We have identified all the people needed from the island to make the team.”
Companies from other areas like Gander and St. John’s are also involved in the development.
Last year the company performed field work and some drilling to determine existing resources, but estimate that so far they have really only explored 15 km of the Cape Ray shield, which they have broken down into separate sections for future testing.
The company is also examining what a processing plant would look like in the region, including the mining area, with an eye towards developing what the representatives called a pathway to production. That could even mean demolishing the existing camps to build a new one centered around the gold mine, the run-off area, tailings pond and more.
Also on the To Do list for the company is just getting the permits, licenses and approvals it will need.
One of the hurdles they must face is environmental assessment so as to protect the native flora and fauna. Studies will include potential impact to fish and fish habitat, large mammals such as caribou, birds, surface and groundwater, and even atmospheric study of any noise or lighting and how it will impact the area.
Gold mining involves usage of contaminants such as mercury and cyanide. A buildup of effluent at one of Hope Brook’s holding ponds in the Southwestern part of the province was responsible for the mine’s shutdown in May of 1991, and Matador Mining intends to avoid any possibility of a similar incident.
Giovanni (John) Sferrazza, who is the President and Senior Project Manager for the Environmental Applications Group will help Matador Mining navigate through the environmental part of the project. He said that he was on site to talk to stakeholders directly and make sure they are part of the discussion.
The plan is designed to ensure that the drilled water is properly captured and won’t leach into streams or groundwater, where it can impact flora and fauna, or even end up in the ocean and affect the fishery. He advised that at some point the company may have three drill rigs on site.
Currently Sferrazza is working with the province to determine the exact guidelines the mining operation will have to follow, and that the environmental process itself can take anywhere from three to five years.
“We are in Year 2,” said Sferrazza.
Once the federal and provincial government’s environmental guidelines have been met, the company will host public meetings to address any other concerns.
“We cannot start the project until all agencies approve,” noted Sferrazza, and once that happens the company can focus on permits.
The company has already held consultations with various stakeholders including outfitters, special interest groups and indigenous communities, and will continue to work with the public to mitigate concerns.
Sferrazza believes that the timeline to submit the final environmental assessment at the federal and provincial levels will like take until the end of August 2021, provided the company can take home enough data from this summer’s exploration to put together all of the information required. Under questioning from a member of council, he stated that a realistic date for the beginning of construction is mid to late 2023.
Other questions from various attendees revealed that the preference for a holding site would be near the ferry to ease transport to the site. The plan is to buy products locally and provincially, but the company will still have to bring in specific materials from outside the province.
Port aux Basques council has offered to provide the company with a list of all services and buildings that the town has to offer.
“It would be invaluable,” replied Sferrazza.
Another update on progress of the Cape Ray mining project is anticipated to take place sometime this fall.