Construction of the Blackwater Gold open-pit mine 160 kilometres southwest of Prince George is now 45 per cent complete and remains on track for its first pour of gold and silver by the latter half of 2024.

Artemis Gold reported Tuesday that close to $280 million of the initial capital expenditure of $730-750 million has been spent.

A 505-hectare site has been cleared for priority infrastructure components and more than 90 per cent of the access roads needed for the first phase of construction are now operable.

Construction was delayed in mid-July when wildfires in the area forced the evacuation of all but 20 essential workers. The mine currently employs more than 500 staff and contractors. Twenty per cent of the total workforce is female and 30 per cent identify as Indigenous, the company said.

“The return and ramp-up to full construction activities following the B.C wildfire event in Q3 2023 was a testimony to our disciplined and coordinated workforce and collaborative partners,” said Artemis Gold president and chief operating officer Jeremy Langford.

“Q3 2023 saw positive gains in efficiencies and productivity, with momentum building throughout the latter stages of the period. To date, the project remains within our guidance for initial capital expenditure and on track for first gold in H2 2024 as planned.”

Rigid frame haul trucks capable of moving 50- and 100-tonne loads have been added to the construction fleet. Artemis has taken delivery of a 400-tonne hydraulic backhoe excavators and three 240-tonne haul trucks which will remain at the mine as part of the owner fleet.

Right-of-way clearing/construction of a 135km 225kV transmission line is scheduled before the end of the year.