A newly created wilderness area kills the possibility that a Nova Scotia lake will be used for gold mining.
Today, the province of Nova Scotia has created a 684-hectare Archibald Lake Wilderness Area. The press release announcing the new wilderness area notes that:
The new wilderness area includes three lakes: Archibald, McDonald and Rocky, which feed Archibald Brook, a tributary of St. Marys River. Nearly 300 hectares of the protected area is old hardwood forest, as defined by the Old-Growth Forest Policy for Nova Scotia.
The wilderness area was first proposed in January 2020. As Joan Baxter reported at the time, Atlantic Gold wanted to use Archibald Lake as a water supply for its proposed Cochrane Hill gold mining project. The province noted at the time that “the company’s proposed use of Archibald Lake cannot be permitted within a wilderness area.”
The wilderness area designation puts an end to Atlantic Gold’s Cochrane Hill plans, at least as proposed. Atlantic Gold is now owned by St Barbara, an Australian firm.
“We are absolutely delighted by today’s announcement to legally protect the Archibald Lake area,” Ray Plourde, with the Ecology Action Centre, told the Halifax Examiner. “Kudos to the provincial government for delivering this important win for nature and for the St. Mary’s River ecosystem. It’s been a long time coming and we congratulate and thank the government for finally getting this one over the finish line”
“We’re happy to see the gold mining company shut out of Archibald Lake but I doubt they’re going to give up,” added Plourde. “There’s lots of other lakes in Guysborough County and I suspect that they’ll just pivot to another proposed water supply. But it doesn’t matter what they do or how long it takes, there will never be a giant open-pit gold mine next to the St. Mary’s River. Nova Scotians simply will not allow it. We will fight it tooth and nail to the bitter end. The company and investors would be well advised to avoid Cochrane Hill and the St. Mary’s River area altogether.”
The company may be heeding that advice.
In December, St Barbara had a corporate shake up, and put its Atlantic Gold properties in Tangier up for sale. The properties have since been sold, but at considerably less than the listed price: the old church hall, listed at $109,000, sold for $80,000; three houses listed at $50,000, $99,900, and $179,900 sold for $46,000, $69,565, and $160,870 respectively; an empty lot listed at $15,000 sold for $9,800.
And in June, St Barbara announced it was considering abandoning its Nova Scotia projects completely.
Earlier this month, St Barbara withdrew environmental assessments for most of its Nova Scotia operation, including the mines at Touquoy, Beaver Dam, and Fifteen Mile Stream, but said that “geological investigations continue at the Cochrane Hill Gold Project.”
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, who enthusiastically visited Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy mine in 2019, has not commented on the company’s recent layoffs and abandonment of plans.