Monday, January 17, 2022

Anaconda, MODG announce community benefits agreement

Company commits thousands in annual contributions to groups

  • January 12 2022
  • By Corey LeBlanc    

GUYSBOROUGH – Anaconda Mining Inc. recently formalized further its commitment to Guysborough County, including pledging to make a sizeable financial contribution to community groups as part of its proposed Goldboro Gold Project.

As part of a community benefits agreement brokered with the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) – unveiled on Jan. 11 – the company said it will contribute annual grants of $15,000 to such organizations, until commercial production of gold begins, and then $100,000 per year for the life of the highly-anticipated project, if – and when – final approval is provided.

“It’s exceptional – that’s some serious coin,” Warden Vernon Pitts said of those coming monies in an interview with The Journal on the day of the announcement.

He also noted the financial pledge that Anaconda has also made to education, which includes five bursaries for local high school students. Starting with $5,000 this year, that fund will increase to $10,000 in 2025, or when commercial gold production begins. Details of the bursary program will be announced in March.

“We are very pleased,” Pitts offered of the provisions of what he described as Anaconda’s “hire local” focus.

As part of the community benefits agreement, the company has committed to implementing measures to help meet local recruitment and employment targets in both the construction and operational stages. They will also work with the Guysborough Career Resource Centre to assess local labour market training and employment opportunities. Anaconda will also focus on encouraging contractors, suppliers and service providers to maximize opportunities to hire locally and support businesses activities in the MODG.

“It is going to be a big boost for them,” Pitts said of the commitment to “engaging local businesses and suppliers to identify procurement and service opportunities.”

Anaconda will also provide its employees with $5,000 apiece to purchase or build homes in MODG.

“That will be great for us,” Pitts said, in reflecting on the possibilities associated with having more families in the area, including increased student enrolment at local schools; not to mention an increased tax base.

Described as establishing the “framework for a long-term relationship” between the company and MODG, other key highlights of the agreement include: hiring co-op work term students and apprenticeship placements; establishing a project information office in the MODG in 2022, while committing to maintaining an operational office for the life of the project; facilitating ongoing dialogue, including quarterly updates to the MODG, as they relate to the community benefits agreement – and the implementation of its provisions – along with the Goldboro Gold Project, in general.

In announcing the pact, the sides described how its provision are aimed at supporting “sustainable social and economic benefits.”

“We are proud to formally establish this commitment…” Anaconda president and CEO Kevin Bullock said in a press release.

He noted that his company “strives to achieve the highest standards of social, ethical and environmental practices in all aspects of our operations,” which Anaconda has displayed for more than a decade with its operation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In conversation with The Journal, Bullock said his company “prides itself on being all-inclusive,” describing signing this agreement as “another step” in doing that with everyone involved with – or affected by – the Goldboro Gold Project.

Its commitment in areas – such as education and training – reflect “having as much local as we can,” when it comes to their initiatives.

Bullock offers that such “financial incentives” not only benefit the community – and its residents – but also the company.

“We are quite excited,” he said of the deal.

Bullock noted that they are also working on a community benefits agreement with Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia.

Word of the community benefits agreement comes on the heels of another ‘good news’ announcement related to the proposed multi-million-dollar initiative.

In mid-December, Anaconda released the findings of its open pit definitive feasibility study (DFS), which Bullock told The Journal at that time “surpassed our expectations.”

The DFS projects gold recovery over the approximately 11-year life span of an open pit mine will be more than 1.10 million ounces, or 100,000 per year.

Another of the many highlights of the DFS estimates that the project will create 345 direct full-time jobs during construction, followed by 215 direct full-time jobs during operations.

The company also outlined what’s to come, including completing the required provincial environmental assessment registration document (EARD), which it expects to submit in the second quarter of 2022.

Anaconda targets the end of 2023 for the start of construction, with mid-2025 as the estimated time for the first gold production.

“They seem to be progressing quite well,” Pitts offered.

He credited Anaconda – not only for how it has engaged with municipal officials but also the broader community, including through the company-established community liaison committee (CLC), which focuses on transparency and ongoing communications between the company and stakeholders regarding the potential development.

“I think they are going to do it [Goldboro Gold Project], and do it right,” Pitts said.