Environmental Assessment: Blackwater Gold Project


Environmental Assessment for New Gold Inc.’s Blackwater Gold Project

Environmental Assessments (EA) are highly technical reviews of proposed major projects and are designed to predict, prevent and/or mitigate adverse environmental impacts. New Gold Inc.’s proposed Blackwater Gold Mine is just one example of a major project that requires an EA. Due to the size of the project, New Gold Inc. must meet regulatory review requirements from both the Federal and Provincial assessment agencies. New Gold Inc. is currently in a Coordinated Review.The coordinated review involves the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).

Although there are a number of other First Nations are participating in the environmental assessment process the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation and the Ulkatcho First Nation have decided to collaborate closely on many aspects of the Blackwater Gold Project.

Given the technical nature of such reviews we have contracted Keefer Ecological Services Ltd. (KES) to lead the review with Michael Keefer acting as Project Manager. As a group, our three organizations have been working very closely together with the goal of creating a high quality and dependable third party review of the EA which we can stand behind.

Recognizing the diversity of skills needed for an effective review, KES hired the following specialized subcontractors to assist with the work:

  • Aspen Wildlife Research Inc. – Clayton Apps, PhD, MEDes, BSc
    • Educational background – PhD, Conservation Biology 2002 – 2007 University of Calgary. Clayton also has a Master of Environmental Design (MEDes), Environmental Science, 1991 – 1996 University of Alberta and a BSc, Biology/Zoology 1986 – 1991
    • Clayton is reviewing: Environmental Baseline (Terrestrial Environment); Identification and selection of Valued Components; Grizzly Bears; Furbearers; Summary of Assessment of Environmental Effects; Summary of Proposed Environmental and Operational Management; Plans (Wildlife Management Plan); Summary of Residual Effects; Summary of Mitigation Measures; Conclusion and; Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat 2011‐13 Baseline Report; Environmental Baseline (Terrestrial Environment); Identification and selection of Valued Components; Moose; Caribou; Summary of Proposed Environmental and Operational Management Plans (Wildlife Management Plan) Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat 2011‐13 Baseline Report


  • Brodie Consulting Ltd. – John Brodie P. Eng.
    • John is providing a review of tailings pond design and safety (including any dam structures), mine closure plans and the potential impacts to the environment


  • Cooper Beauchesne and Associates Ltd – Harry Van Oort, MSc., BSc. University of Victoria
    • Harry van Oort is a Wildlife Biologist with expertise in ornithology, animal behavior, and large mammal ecology. Harry is reviewing sections in the baseline study related to: Identification and selection of Valued Components; Water Birds; Forest and Grassland Birds; Assessment of Environmental Effects; Proposed Environmental and Operational Management Plans (Wildlife Management Plan); Residual Effects; Mitigation Measures and; Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat 2011-13 Baseline Report


  • Keefer Ecological Services Ltd – Michael Keefer, MSc, Pag
    • Michael has over 20 years’ experience managing large and complex projects in the fields of ecology, First Nations traditional knowledge, economic development and environmental assessments. He is widely recognized as one of Canada’s top experts on the use of native plants for restoring degraded landscapes as well as Aboriginal ethnobotany. Michael has led the start-up of three native plant nurseries and is actively engaging on the start-up of two mixed nursery businesses primarily focused on food production. Michael has also led the development and delivery of the Growing Our Futures: Native Plant Horticulture Training and Employment Readiness Certificate program in collaboration with Royal Roads University. The program provides community-based, culturally sensitive, hands-on training to adult Indigenous students interested in learning how to grow native plants for ecological restoration, landscaping and food production. The program is delivered within host communities to reduce barriers to attendance and to ensure as much relevance as possible to community interests and opportunities.


  • Keefer Ecological Services Ltd – Randy Moody MSc, RPBio
    • Randy has 12 years of experience working as an Ecologist in British Columbia. He is a leading provincial expert in whitebark and limber pine and has worked on related conservation and restoration projects throughout British Columbia. Randy has developed whitebark pine recovery plans, implemented planting programs, established permanent monitoring plots, designed prescribed burns and treatments for whitebark pine restoration, and conducted numerous research studies.
    • Randy is reviewing: Environmental Significance and Environmental Setting; Reclamation and Closure; Terrestrial Environment; Wetlands; Identification and Selection of Valued Components; Ecosystem Composition; Plant Species and Ecosystems at Risk; Invertebrates; Management for Whitebark Pine; Vegetation 2011‐13 Baseline


  • O’Shannassy Environmental – Julia O’Shannassy, MSc, PEng – Environmental Engineer
    • Julia is a Professional Engineer registered in BC and Alberta, with over 14 years’ experience specializing in aquatic ecosystems including: hydrologic analyses, water quality modelling and monitoring, fisheries assessments, fish habitat reclamation, erosion and sediment control and bank stabilization design. Julia has been part of several multi‐disciplinary teams preparing and reviewing Environmental Impact Assessments and baseline data reports for large mining, oil sands and power plant projects as well as an award-winning municipal waste water treatment project. She has a thorough understanding of provincial and federal regulatory and permitting requirements and has developed good working relationships with regulators at multiple levels of government.


  • Phase Geochemistry – Shannon Shaw, M.Sc., B.Sc.
    • Shannon is providing a review of: Proposed Project Overview; Capping Material Requirements by Project Components; Pit Lake Treatment; Geochemical Characterization Report; Tailings Technologies document; and Conclusions


  • Source Environmental Associates – Rina Freed, PhD., P. Eng.
    • Rina Freed has extensive experience in mine design, permitting and mine closure. Her expertise includes mine waste management planning, water balance and water quality modelling, geochemistry, and groundwater modelling. Dr. Freed has 17 years’ experience working at mines throughout BC, Alberta, Ontario, Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Labrador and New Brunswick. Her projects include review for First Nations and consulting to the mining industry. Dr. Freed has experience with engaging communities in alternatives for mine design and government-to-government co-management within First Nations territories.
    • Reena Freed has been reviewing the Surface Water Quality Model Report and Appendices; Updated Surface Water Quality Effects Assessment; Assessment of Effects Related to Project Changes; amongst other aspects related to water, seepage and wetland design.


  • Swanson Environmental Associates Ltd. – Stella Swanson, PhD.
    • Stella Swanson has over thirty-five years of experience in the assessment and management of the effects of human activities on the environment. Stella’s current areas of focus are the provision of strategic advice regarding the management of environmental risk, engagement with Indigenous peoples, communities, and regulatory personnel, and expert review.
    • Stella is providing a comprehensive review on topics surrounding: EA Methodology; Identification and Selection of Valued Components; Surface Water Flow; Surface Water Quality; Sediment Quality; Wetlands; Fish; Assessment of Potential Health Effects and; Accidents or Malfunction. She is also leading a review on the Cumulative Effects Assessment.