Skeena is proposing to restart operations at the historical underground Eskay Creek Mine as an open-pit gold-silver mine. The project is currently in the conceptual stage but would use some of the existing infrastructure that remains at site. If Eskay Creek goes back into production, it would produce a concentrate (249,000 ounces of gold and 7,222,000 ounces of silver per year) where it would be trucked on Highway 37 to the Port of Stewart for shipment to third party smelters.
Eskay Creek is located 83 kilometres (km) northwest of Stewart, BC and 125 km south of Iskut, BC within the traditional territory of the Tahltan Nation and the asserted traditional territory of the Skii Km Lax Ha Nation. The site is currently accessible by a 61 km access road connected to Highway 37 near the Bob Quinn Airstrip.
Image 1: Proposed Eskay Creek Open Pit Mine components
Skeena will be building upon existing approval with new components for the proposed open-pit mine. New components will include:
- 14 km powerline connection
- Two open pits
- External and internal waste rock storage facilities
- Surface diversion water management structures (ponds, sumps, ditches)
- Overland conveyer linking primary crusher to processing plant
- Processing site (mill, vehicle maintenance facilities, warehouse, administration, mine dry, first aid, security, fuel storage)
- Tailings pipeline from mill to existing Tailings Management Storage Facility
- Accommodation facility
- Water treatment facilities
Eskay Creek has been monitored since historical production began in 1994. Therefore, the site has a large database of environmental data (1994-2020).
We have continued environmental studies at the site to improve our understanding of the natural environment of the area. There are no fish in the waterways near the project, numerous chutes and falls in this steep terrain make fish passage impossible. High winter snowpack (sometimes greater than 15m) also limits wildlife habitat in the area. Summer wildlife observations have identified black bear, grizzly bear, mountain goat, and small mammals such as martens, wolverines, voles and marmots use this area at certain times of year. There is limited summer habitat for moose, but they are rarely seen at the high elevations of the Project area.
The Eskay Creek Project is closest to the Tahltan communities of Dease Lake (190 km to NE, or 253 km via road), Iskut (125 km N or 170 km via road) and Telegraph Creek (142 km to N, or 362 km via road).
Skeena and the Tahltan First Nations have signed several agreements that speak to employment and contracting, permitting and regulatory requirements, environmental performance, communications and community engagement. Discussions are ongoing with Tahltan Central Government agencies to ensure that any additional sensitive or vulnerable economic, social, heritage or health value will be identified as the baseline studies for the human environment progress.
Future engagement in an appropriate manner with all communities will take place as the project is within the Early Engagement stage of the process.