Cariboo Gold mine marks first project reviewed under new act
  • The proposed Cariboo Gold mine is the first project assessed from start to finish under the revitalized 2018 Environmental Assessment Act.
  • The new act, developed with input from First Nations, stakeholders, other provincial agencies and the public, was modernized to enhance public confidence, transparency and meaningful participation, to advance reconciliation with First Nations, and to deliver stronger environmental protections, while supporting sustainable economic development.
  • Highlights of the new process include deeper participation by First Nations, enhanced citizen engagement and modern enforcement tools. During a new early engagement phase, issues and concerns can be identified early and addressed before the formal assessment begins, streamlining the process.
  • Reconciliation with First Nations was established as a key purpose of the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), supported through consensus-seeking at each phase of the assessment process, with a dispute-resolution mechanism if needed.
  • A range of potential impacts from a project are now considered, including direct, indirect and cumulative effects. The EAO reviews how a project will affect the environment, economy and First Nations and their rights, as well as social, cultural and health effects. Groups disproportionately affected by a project are specifically considered, as are a project’s effects on current and future generations, and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The modernized environmental assessment process is expected to generally take three to five years, but this will vary depending on complexity and the effectiveness of proponent planning and engagement.
  • Proposed projects, such as mines, oil and gas pipelines and facilities, large infrastructure projects and resorts, that exceed the thresholds set in regulation must be reviewed to assess potential impacts on people and the environment. As a neutral regulatory agency, the EAO works with and gets input from technical experts, First Nations, companies, the public, local governments, and federal and provincial agencies to assess these projects.


Cariboo Gold mine

  • The assessment process for the Cariboo Gold project began in May 2020 and concluded when the environmental assessment certificate was issued on Oct. 10, 2023.
  • Subject to receiving all required permits, Osisko Development Corp. will build and operate the underground gold mine in the District of Wells. It is expected to produce about 25 million tonnes of ore over 16 years.
  • Construction costs are expected to contribute an estimated at $588 million to the economy over four years, and operations an $466 million. The project will employ an average of 200 workers during construction and almost 500 during operations.
  • A 200-person work camp will be built at the project site, which is about the same number as the number of permanent residents in Wells, currently.


First Nations engagement

  • The EAO achieved consensus at key milestones with the three First Nations participating in the assessment process – Lhtako Dené Nation, Xatśūll First Nation and Williams Lake First Nation. Under the new act, First Nations participating in the process may consent or not consent to the project. The three First Nations notified the EAO that they did not object to Cariboo Gold being issued an environmental assessment certificate.
  • Nazko First Nation and Tsilhqot’in National Government were notified at key milestones.


Community collaboration

  • The EAO sought extensive public feedback throughout its review, with almost 500 comments received during five public comment periods. Comments and concerns were incorporated into the final assessment report sent to decision-makers.
  • Due to the mine’s location in the town of Wells and potential substantial changes for the local residents, a community advisory committee was formed to give residents deeper participation in the review process. The committee met regularly.
  • The technical advisory committee for the project’s assessment included representatives from the City of Quesnel, Cariboo Regional District and District of Wells, as well as technical experts and representatives from First Nations and the provincial government.
  • Key concerns raised by First Nations, community members and the technical advisory committee, which design changes and conditions of the environmental assessment certificate are intended to address, included:
    • water quality;
    • air and light pollution;
    • truck traffic through town;
    • residents’ peaceful enjoyment of the community of Wells;
    • impacts on tourism;
    • impacts to caribou habitat; and
    • how concerns that arise during construction and operations will be addressed.


Compliance and enforcement:

  • Osisko Development Corp. is required to comply with 22 legally enforceable requirements established as a condition of receiving the environmental assessment certificate, and to build and operate the project in accordance with the certified project description.
  • EAO compliance and enforcement officers monitor compliance with all environmental assessment certificate requirements in co-ordination with other regulatory agencies.
  • Monitoring and inspection of the Cariboo Gold mine project will begin before construction starts.


Learn More:

For an Environmental Assessment Office factsheet, visit: