Nova Scotia

Anaconda doubles gold estimate at proposed mine near Goldboro

Anaconda believes the Goldboro site is the second-largest undeveloped gold deposit in Atlantic Canada.

Site is second-largest undeveloped gold deposit in Atlantic Canada, company says

An excavator fills a dump truck with crushed rock in Anaconda's open-pit mine in Newfoundland. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

A mining company hoping to strike it rich on the Eastern Shore says it now believes there is double the amount of gold it initially thought was on its property near Goldboro, N.S.

Anaconda Mining originally estimated there were 1.4-million ounces of gold at its site about 250 kilometres east of Halifax.

But after exploration, drilling and testing last year, the Toronto-based company now believes there are closer to 2.75-million ounces of gold.

"I've been in this industry 35 years, and it's been my dream to develop something like this," said Kevin Bullock, the company's president and CEO. "I'm just ecstatic. You know, people look for these their lifetime and never find them. So I'm really happy about that."

Bullock said he believes the gold deposit at Goldboro is the second-largest undeveloped deposit in Atlantic Canada, second only to Marathon Gold's Valentine Gold project in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Focus shifting to open-pit mining

The findings have prompted Anaconda to modify its plans for the proposed mine.

The plan had always been to extract gold through both open-pit surface mining as well as underground mining. The company still plans to use both methods, but now plans more open-pit mining.

Open-pit mining tends to be faster and less expensive. It also means more ore is crushed and processed, producing more waste dumps and tailings, the material left over after ore is processed.

Bullock said the amount of ore that will be processed will quadruple from previous estimates.

The shift to more open-pit mining will increase the physical footprint of the mining operations due to the amount of tailings and waste dumps, but Bullock couldn't yet say by how much.

He expects the period of open-pit mining to last for at least eight or nine years before underground mining begins.

Bullock said if the mine is approved, he hopes to see construction begin by the end of 2022.

The project would create a "tremendous" number of jobs through both the construction and operations phases, Bullock said.

Anaconda is now expecting to be able to produce about 100,000 ounces a year, a figure Bullock estimates is relatively on par with the activities of the province's active mine, Atlantic Gold's Touquoy mine in Moose River.

Environmental approval

Anaconda submitted its original plans for Goldboro to the province for environmental approval in August 2018. But the environment minister at the time, Margaret Miller, said the company's submission didn't contain enough information.

She asked Anaconda to write a new, more extensive report on the environmental implications of the project, and gave a one-year deadline. Three days before that deadline, in September 2019, Anaconda withdrew its proposal from the environmental assessment process because it was changing its plans for the mine.

Bullock said the mine would operate in compliance with all provincial environmental policies.

"So, waters frequented by fish, we will stay away from. We will ensure that everything is done to the standard that anything emitted to the environment will not have anything in it that's deleterious."

Bullock acknowledged that since the Goldboro area was mined as far back as the late 1800s — long before any environmental regulations were in place — there are historical tailings that "have some nasties in them."

He said the company would hope to help the government clean up those sites.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frances Willick is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Please contact her with feedback, story ideas or tips at frances.willick@cbc.ca

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