First Mining Finance Corp. is pleased to provide an update on the current and proposed future permitting activities at its 100%-owned Springpole Gold Project (“Springpole”) which is located approximately 110 kilometres east of Red Lake in northwestern Ontario.
On September 21, 2017, the Company released the results of an updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) on Springpole. The PEA describes the potential technical and economic viability of establishing a conventional open-pit gold mine-and-mill complex for the project.
The Company is currently working on a number of fronts to advance the permitting for Springpole, which includes engaging and working with various ministries and departments of the Canadian (federal) and Ontario (provincial) governments. Highlights of the permitting activities are as follows:
- A Project Description document is expected to be submitted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (“CEAA”) before the end of 2017. The Project Description is a required government filing that will initiate the federal Environmental Assessment (“EA”) process for Springpole.
- Once the Project Description has been filed, and the project has been registered by CEAA, the Company expects to commence preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for Springpole.
- The EA process and eventual project approval is expected to take 18 to 24 months, after which permitting for “start of construction” can commence. Permitting is expected to begin immediately after EA approval is received, and is expected to take 12 to 18 months. To help streamline the process, the Company intends to have its permit application submissions ready for filing as soon as Springpole is released of all EA obligations.
- Provincially, the Company intends to voluntarily submit to an Individual EA under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act, and EA Terms of Reference are being prepared for submission to the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”).
- The Company also intends to continue engaging with local stakeholders, including local First Nation groups, and expects to sign a number of agreements with these groups in the near future.
Keith Neumeyer, the Chairman of First Mining, stated, “First Mining’s strategy from being simply an acquirer and holder of gold projects has evolved into a project developer. With the very robust PEA that was released recently, it has become clear that Springpole has the potential to become a very substantial mine that will have a major economic contribution to northern Ontario. The normal evolution for this project is permitting and completing a Pre-feasibility study, both of which are a high priority for the Company. I believe that moving Springpole forward is the best way to add considerable value for our shareholders and I’m confident that the permitting process for Springpole will be successful.”
The specific details of the Company’s EA and permitting activities are set out below.
Both the federal and provincial Environmental Assessment processes are expected to be formally initiated before the end of 2017 through the submission of a Project Description to CEAA and EA Terms of Reference to MOECC. The Company expects to receive federal EIS Guidelines and approval of EA Terms of Reference for Springpole before the end of the second quarter of 2018.
Discussions have already been initiated with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (“MNRF”) Red Lake District for the permitting of the access road to the Springpole site, a project which has already been approved by MNRF through a Class EA for Resource Stewardship and Facilities Development Projects conducted in 2013, and subsequently released from any further EA obligations by the MOECC in May 2014. Submissions for the various work permits and to secure aggregate deposits required to construct the road are in the process of being prepared and will be submitted by year end to the MNRF in Red Lake and Sioux Lookout District offices
Discussions with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (“DFO”) regarding fishery off-sets for Springpole are expected to be initiated in the first quarter of 2018, with the submission of a Fisheries Existing Conditions Report targeted for the fourth quarter of 2017. First Mining has already been in contact with DFO staff in the Edmonton Regional office to inform them of our development plans.
The Company has also engaged with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (“MNDM”) in Thunder Bay with regards to First Mining’s future project development plans for Springpole and an Inter-Agency meeting is expected to be held in the near future following MNDM’s “One Window” approach to mineral development projects in Ontario.
The federal and provincial EA process for Springpole is expected to take between 18 and 24 months. Permitting for “start of construction” is expected to begin immediately after Springpole receives EA approval and is expected to take 12 to 18 months. To help streamline this process, the Company intends to be proactive and have its permit application submissions ready for filing as soon as Springpole is released of all EA obligations. Reports are currently being prepared to support this process using the extensive environmental baseline data that has been collected at the Springpole site since 2013.