Upgrading KSM to substantially started
North of 60 Mining News - January 17, 2024
Last updated 1/26/2024 at 11:42am
With $444 million invested over the past three years, Seabridge files an application to upgrade status of KSM, ensure the longevity of EAC.
After investing nearly C$1 billion (US$740 million) into KSM over the past two decades, including C$444 million (US$328 million) over the past three years, Seabridge Gold Inc. has applied to have the status of this world-class gold-copper project in Northern British Columbia elevated to "substantially started."
A substantially started designation by the BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy will keep the previously approved environmental assessment certificate (EAC) for KSM in effect for the life of the mine project in BC's Golden Triangle.
To make the EAC permanent, the environment minister must determine that enough physical work has been completed to surpass a certain on-site construction threshold. Other mining projects in Northern BC, including Newmont Corp. and Teck Resources Ltd.'s Galore Creek copper-gold project, have been granted the substantially started designation.
With more than C$997 million invested in KSM since 2001, including C$805 million (US$595 million) since the EAC was issued in 2014 and C$444 million since 2021, Seabridge believes it has surpassed the required threshold and has applied to the BC Environment Assessment Office (BC EAO) for the substantially started designation.
"The permanent physical improvements we have made to the KSM site are truly impressive," said Seabridge Gold Chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk. "Since launching our early construction program three years ago, a proposed mine development that only existed on paper is now taking physical shape on the ground with roads and bridges, permanent living facilities for our personnel, hydroelectric power infrastructure, and new fish habitat compensation projects."
World-class project, partnerships
The site improvements at KSM are being built to support the development of a mine at the largest undeveloped gold and third-largest undeveloped copper project on the planet.
According to the most recent calculation, KSM hosts 153.9 million ounces of gold and 54.5 billion pounds of copper in all resource categories (88.3 million oz of gold and 19.4 billion lb of copper in measured and indicated, and 65.6 million oz of gold and 35.1 billion lb in inferred).
A mid-2022 prefeasibility study detailed plans for developing an open pit mining operation at KSM capable of producing more than 1 million oz of gold, 3 million oz of silver, 178 million pounds of copper and 4.2 million lb of molybdenum annually for 33 years.
While this would be a world-class mine in its own right, it does not even consider an underground-focused mine capable of producing another 14.3 million oz of gold, 14.3 billion lb of copper, 68.2 million oz of silver, and 13.8 million lb of molybdenum over 39 years.
This project also boasts a near-term connection to clean hydropower delivered via BC Hydro's Northwest Transmission Line and strong relationships with local First Nations.
A year ago, the Nisga'a and Tahltan First Nations unveiled the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership, an alliance that strengthens their leadership when it comes to Northern BC's growing mining sector and realizes the economic opportunities related to KSM.
"On behalf of both the Nisga'a Nation and the Tahltan Nation, I would like to acknowledge Seabridge for their support and encouragement for the creation of our Treaty Creek Limited Partnership, and their willingness to actively engage and work with our partnership on their KSM project, the world's largest undeveloped gold project," said Tahltan Nation Development Corp. Chair Carol Danielson.
Input from the Tahltan and Nisga'a Nations will be important as the BC Environment Assessment Office considers Seabridge's KSM substantially started status application.
"We look forward to working with the BC EAO and First Nations on the review of our application," said Fronk.
"Finally, I want to personally thank the Nisga'a Nation, the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs office, BC Hydro and the municipal leaders of Terrace, Smithers, Stewart, Hazelton, and the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine for their letters of support that have been filed with our application," the Seabridge Gold CEO added.