Canadian Mining Journal

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COMMENT: A matter of size

Seabridge Gold of Toronto has big, big plans for its KSM project 65 km northwest of Stewart, BC. According to last year's prefeasibility study the property contains 38.2 million oz of gold. 9.9 billion lb of copper, 191 million oz of silver,...



Seabridge Gold of Toronto has big, big plans for its KSM project 65 km northwest of Stewart, BC. According to last year’s prefeasibility study the property contains 38.2 million oz of gold. 9.9 billion lb of copper, 191 million oz of silver, and 213 million lb of molybdenum.

That’s four big reasons to develop a mine there, but such things are never done overnight. There are seemingly endless studies to complete, applications to make, and approvals to be given. Nonetheless, the KSM project is moving forward.

Seabridge has reached a milestone – the filing of its application for a provincial environmental assessment certificate and for a federal environmental impact statement.

As befits a project with the world’s largest undeveloped gold-copper project (by reserves), the EIS material given to the government departments may be worthy of its own record. There are 40 fully indexed, linked and hyperlinked flash  memory sticks and 10 hardcopies – each hardcopy consisting of 41 volumes (each 10-cm thick) containing over 30,000 pages of text, tables, figures and maps.

At 2.27 kg per ream (500 sheets) the paper alone in each hardcopy weighs 136.2 kg. Add a binder or 2 hard covers for each of the 41 volumes in a hardcopy, and the mind boggles – 500 kg? And there are 10 of them.

My research revealed that a single flash drive weighs between 8 g and 12 g. At the midpoint, 10 g each, 40 such drives would weigh 400 g or 0.4 kg.

There is something to be said for the computer age, at least when it comes to paying for physical transportation of information. (Online applications do not yet appear to be an option.)

Now Seabridge and other backers of the KSM project must wait. First is a 45-day screening period, then a 180-day environmental assessment review, and finally 45 days for review by the government minister. The running of these time periods may be suspended while additional information is requested, said the company, but the federal process is now bound by a 365 day approval process limit.

“We anticipate that the KSM review process … should be completed by mid-2014,” said Seabridge chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk.

We hope he is right. The KSM project is environmentally, technically and economically feasible, and as such deserves to go forward.