Columbus Gold Corp. offers an update on the Montagne d’Or gold project. Montagne d’Or continues to gather strong local support as a facilitator for the economic growth of French Guiana.
Shutterstock / Sunshine Seeds
Socio-economic stakeholders and local elected officials and MPs, including four out of five local labour unions; Rodolphe Alexandre, President of French Guiana; Georges Patient, representing French Guiana in the upper house of the Parliament of France; Lénaïck Adam, delegate of the National Assembly on behalf of French Guiana in the lower house of Parliament; David Riché, President of the association of mayors of French Guiana; Sophie Charles and Paul Dolianki, mayors of the western communes of St-Laurent du Maroni and Apatou, respectively, are all in support of the project.
As mandated by French regulations, the Montagne d’Or joint-venture (Columbus 44.99% and Nordgold 55.01%) provided its official decision last November to French authorities to advance the permitting and development of the Montagne d’Or gold mine after the conclusion of the public hearings held in 2018 under the order of the French National Commission of Public Debate (the “CNDP”). The decision takes into consideration the recommendations of the CNDP to make certain project enhancements and alterations.
Incidentally, more engineering studies are now in progress in respect of the following technical aspects of the project:
- Tailings storage facility redesign to reduce the height of retainment dams
- Complete water management/balance
- Waste rock storage redesign
- On-site explosive production
- Feasibility level study for on-site power generation, such as solar energy
In 2018, an inter-ministerial taskforce was set up by the French government to evaluate the economic and social benefits of, and the impacts related to the development of the gold mining industry in French Guiana. The taskforce consulted with all stakeholders and presented a report to the French government last December.
The report makes suggestions on the conditions for the development of the gold mining industry in French Guiana, with specific focus on Montagne d’Or, the most progressive large-scale gold project in French Guiana. The report is yet to be made public by the French government.
Furthermore, a new environmental body was set up by the French government on April 25th, 2019, called the “Conseil de défense écologique” (the “Counsel”), chaired by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, with its first meeting held on May 23rd, 2019.
Regarding the mining sector, the French Prime Minister communicated the new environmental ethics which mining projects will have to be in compliance with and will be detailed in a new mining code to be enacted by the end of 2019.
The Counsel believed the Montagne d’Or project was not yet well-matched with these new standards. The Montagne d’Or joint-venture is making good advancement to directly resolve the French government’s comments and is moving ahead to design a compatible project that matches with the government’s expectations on environmental protection, which will also take into consideration the new mining code presently being drafted.
Imminent milestones for mine permitting comprise:
- Grant of mining concession renewals
- French mining code reform
- Completion of technical studies for committed project alterations
Reform of the French Mining Code
In May, the Minister of Environment declared a reform to the mining code by the end of 2019. The reform is intended to permit the development of French mining resources based on the highest social and environmental standards, bringing specific procedures of the mining code into line with the Charter of the environment. The reform is presently in progress.
The mining, environmental, and construction permit applications for mine development will take into consideration the new provisions of the mining code reform, which will be relevant to Montagne d’Or.
The formation of the Counsel and reform of the French mining code will modernize the mining industry in French Guiana and balance the priorities of all stakeholders.
Rock Lefrançois, President and CEO, Columbus
Mining Concession Renewal
In agreement with Article L 144‑4 of the mining code, renewal applications for 25-year terms were submitted to the French authorities for two mining concessions before the expiration date of December 31st, 2018. These two mining concessions encompass the Montagne d’Or gold deposit and the Élysée gold prospect.
The Montagne d’Or joint venture allowed six non-core concessions to lapse. The Montagne d’Or project presently comprises two mining concessions in the process of renewal, and two exploration permits spanning 93.5 km2.
An official written approval was conveyed by the French authorities to all companies that hold mining concessions in French Guiana, stating that in agreement with Article L 142‑9 of the mining code, operations can carry on on mining concessions while renewal applications are in process.