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Seabridge Gold wins environmental award for Johnny Mountain reclamation

Jake McDonald Annual Mine Reclamation Award recognizes outstanding achievement in mine reclamation
Before and after: The biggest visual change in Seabridge Gold’s reclamation of Johnny Mountain mine site was the demolition of the old mill building. (Contributed photos)

Seabridge Gold has been recognized for its reclamation of the old Johnny Mountain mine site in northwest B.C.

The company was awarded the 2022 Jake McDonald Annual Mine Reclamation Award presented by the British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation (TRCR) to recognize outstanding achievement in mine reclamation in the province.

Seabridge’s vice president of environment and social responsibility Elizabeth Miller, who works out of the Smithers office, said it was very gratifying to receive the honour.

“Seabridge is just pretty excited about all the reclamation progress that we’ve made at the Johnny Mountain site since Seabridge acquired it in 2016,” she said. “And so, it was really nice for the team to be recognized for the amount of work that we’ve done there since Seabridge acquired the project. I think the entire team is pretty excited.”

When Seabridge bought Snip Gold for its Iskut project, which has major exploration potential, the company also inherited the Johnny Mountain mine, which operated during the 1980s. What they found was a site in complete disrepair with significant liabilities including several Ministry of the Environment environmental orders, Miller explained.

The company worked with the Tahltan Central Government and Tahltan Nation Development Corporation to come up with a plan to reclaim the site.

“The main points and purposes was to mitigate the historical mining activity and to be able to return the disturbed lands to their original land use, which was alpine tundra wildlife habitat.”

The $12 million reclamation project included removing hazardous materials including old batteries, mercury lights and asbestos tiles for proper disposal.

They also had to dismantle a large tank farm, do in situ hydrocarbon remediation on the leftover soil, dig up several unauthorized landfills, move the garbage and demolish an old mill building.

Remediation of the site is ongoing with the relocation of waste rock to a tailings management facility.

The state of disrepair that the Johnny Mountain mine site was left in is not how Seabridge views responsible development, she said.

“So, the company at that time, including our executive and our board of directors, recognized that that’s not how Seabridge operates and that it needed to be closed responsibly. That was the dedication and the commitment that Seabridge made.”

Miller also recently visited the KSM site, the company’s flagship project. She said steady progress is being made toward satisfying the requirements of their environmental certificate to have the project “substantially started” by July 2026.

Currently, they are building roads and establishing work camps.

She noted that progress, along with a recently released update to their pre-feasibility study, is also generating interest in the company’s search for a joint venture partner to operate the mine.

Seabridge is unwilling to divulge who they are talking to.

“We have confidentiality agreements signed with a number of major mining companies and that’s about all I can say on that one,” Miller said.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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