The British Columbia government has granted environmental approval for a proposed $5.3-billion mine in the provinces north, which would tap into one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world and has already received support from local First Nations.
The provincial environment and mines ministers issued an environmental assessment certificate Wednesday to Seabridge Gold Inc. (TSX:SEA) for the company's KSM project, also known as Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell.
Seabridge has applied to open the project more than 900 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, where the company says it would be able to mine 38.2 million ounces of gold and almost 5 billion kilograms of copper — enough to produce 130,000 tonnes of ore per day for up to 52 years.
The company says the project would create 1,800 jobs during construction and more than 1,000 permanent jobs if it gets up and running, though Seabridge also notes it still must find a partner to fund and actually build the mine.
BC Mines Minister Bill Bennett said the project would be a boon to the province's economy and First Nations in the region.
"This will be a major employer, not just for the northwest but for all of BC and it will pump a lot of money into our economy," Bennett said in an interview Wednesday.
"These are high-paying jobs. They're family-supporting jobs."
The Gitxsan First Nation has also come out in support of the project, and the company says it hopes to sign an agreement with the Tahltan First Nation soon.
"We're going into land that they've inhabited for generations, and we need to make sure that we're a responsible neighbour," Seabridge's CEO, Rudi Fronk, said in an interview.