Wild Border Watersheds

PROJECT: Galore Creek

One of the world's largest undeveloped open pit mines in a remote and mountainous location between the Iskut and Stikine Rivers

Photo Credit: Mike Fay

Overview

Project Map CEA Project Status BCEA Project Status

The Galore Creek Project is a proposed open pit mine located between the Stikine and Iskut Rivers in northwest B.C., about 70 km/44 miles west of Highway 37. It is one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold-silver deposits, owned equally by NovaGold Resources Inc. and Teck Resources Ltd, and managed by the Galore Creek Mining Corporation (GCMC). The project received an Environmental Assessment Certificate and began construction in 2007, but cost estimates more than doubled, and development was suspended in November 2007.

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A new pre-feasibility study proposes “a more realistic and lower risk development alternative,” processing 95,000 tonnes per day, over an 18-year mine life. A 12 km tunnel would connect the mine to the proposed new mill site near Round Lake, which would be used as a tailings impoundment. A transmission line connecting the mine site to the Northwest Transmission Line would provide power for the project, while ore concentrate would be trucked down Highway 37 to the port at Stewart, BC. Even with a revised mine plan, the remote location continues to be a challenge for mine construction, currently estimated at $5.2 billion. NovaGold is attempting to sell its 50% share of the project.

Impacts

The proposed Galore Creek mine could fragment the ecological integrity of the region and is a source of potential contamination to the Iskut-Stikine watershed. The proposed mine would impact the Galore, Scud, Scotsimpson, Sphaler, Porcupine, More and Iskut drainages, all of which flow into the Stikine River, which supports 19 fish species, including all 5 species of Pacific salmon. A new road would extend deep into the mountains between the Iskut and Stikine Rivers, bringing industrial traffic, transmission lines, waste rock dumps and toxic tailings impoundments to a fragile high country terrain populated by grizzly bears, mountain goats and other wildlife.

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The proposed mine would generate about 1.3 billion tonnes of waste rock and tailings, with roughly half of that being potentially acid generating. Waste rock would be placed in the Galore Creek valley, raising the threat of acid mine drainage flowing into and polluting the Scud River, an important salmon-bearing tributary of the Stikine River. The revised mine plan relocates the tailings impoundment and mill site to the adjacent West More Valley, but acid mine drainage is still a concern as tailings waste would be dumped into Round Lake, which drains into More Creek and the Iskut River.

Related News

Galore Creek Canadian Federal Environmental Assessment Process

PROPOSAL
SUBMITTED

CNSC or NEB is the Responsible Authority

CEA Agency is the Responsible Authority (45 days for screening)

No screening required. CEAA 2012 does not apply.

Regulatory EA process by CNSC or NEB
(public participation)

Public comments on whether an EA is required
(20 days)

Panel Review (2-yr limit). Public comments collected. "Interested parties" can participate in hearings

Standard Review
(1-year limit).
Public participation

Exempt from federal EA due to substitution or discretion

Exempt from CEAA 2012 due to equivalency

FEDERAL DECISION

Galore Creek British Columbia Environmental Assessment Process

INITIAL PROPOSAL
SUBMITTED

Scope and
process for
review
determined by
EAO

Application
Information
Requirements
(30-day public
comment period)

APPLICATION
SUBMITTED

Application
evaluated for
completeness by
EAO

Application review
(Public comment
period)

Assessment report
prepared by EAO

DECISION BY
MINISTER

Pre-application: no time limit

Completion evaluation: 30 days

Application review: 180 days

Decision: 45 days