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Planned Eastern Shore wilderness area ‘huge blow’ to gold mine plan

The proposed Archibald Lake Wilderness Area would cut off a proposed gold mine from its water supply.

Wed Editor Note: Click on the link at bottom of article to see information on upcoming public consultations on six new and existing designated wilderness areas.

Atlantic Gold planned to take up to 500,000 cubic metres of water out of Archibald Lake when its proposed Cochrane Hill mine starts up and a further 50 cubic metres daily for mine operations.

The 684-hectare Archibald Lake Wilderness Area would completely encompass both Archibald Lake and adjacent Rocky Lake.

“The company will review the proposal and assess any potential impacts on the proposed Cochrane Hill Gold Mine,” said Dustin O’Leary, spokesman for Atlantic Gold, in a written statement to The Chronicle Herald.

“Atlantic Gold acts to protect the environment around its operations and projects, while providing opportunity and prosperity for families and communities along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. Atlantic Gold looks forward to the opportunity to consult with the provincial government on this proposal during the consultation period.”

The Department of Environment is accepting submissions as part of that consultation until March 9.

Scott Beaver called the proposed protected area a “huge blow” for the mine that he and a broad group of concerned citizens have been lobbying against.

“I would think they would have to go back to the drawing board,” said the president of the St. Mary’s River Association.

“This totally cuts off the lake and the pipeline they want to use.”

The Cochrane Hill mine’s proposed location adjacent to the St. Mary’s River has been a source of consternation for many area residents and for salmon advocates.

The open pit operation on the site of a historic underground mine would involve digging a 170-metre-deep pit nearly a kilometre long. Its tailings pond would be two-kilometres long and be held in place by a 70-metre-high earthen wall about a kilometre from the St. Mary’s River.

Rock mined at the site would be ground up, concentrated and trucked to Atlantic Gold’s existing facility in Moose River via Highway 7 along the Eastern Shore for processing.

The company has repeatedly pushed back its anticipated date to file an impact statement with the federal regulator, which would kickstart a process expected to last at least a year long.