Skeena rallies on B.C. tailings facility court ruling

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Skeena Resources Ltd. [SKE-TSXV, SKE-NYSE] announced Friday that the British Columbia Court of Appeal has overturned the decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia regarding a waste rock storage facility at the company’s Eskay Creek mine in British Columbia.

The former Chief Gold Commissioner had determined that Richard Mill was the owner of the waste rock and tailings from the Eskay Creek Mine that were placed in the Albino Lake Storage Facility. Justice Lyer of the B.C. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Chief Gold Commissioner on November 22, 2022.

However, in a press release Friday, Skeena said the Court of Appeal concluded that on the record before it, Skeena did not “relinquish” its rights to the Eskay Creek Material and that the former Chief Gold Commissioner was “clearly palpably wrong to hold otherwise.” Mr. Mill’s asserted entitlement was based on the Province’s grant of a mineral claim to him in 2017. The Court, however, found that the Province cannot be said to have granted ownership rights to the Eskay Creek Material to Mr. Mill when it granted him the mineral claim because the Province itself did not hold the rights to the material at the time.

Skeena shares advanced on the news, rising 4.24% or 34 cents to $8.35 on volume of 219,920. The shares currently trade in a 52-week range of $8.08 and $4.20.

“We are gratified by the ruling from the BC Court of Appeal. The decision is a strong one and affirms our belief that the former Chief Gold Commissioner was in error when he decided that Skeena gave up ownership of the waste material from the Eskay Creek mine once it was deposited in the Albino Lake tailings storage facility,’’ said Skeena Executive Chairman Walter Coles.

With decision now overturned, the matter will be referred back to the current Chief Gold Commissioner for rehearing and reconsideration of Skeena’s ownership of the Albino Lake storage facility in light of the Court of Appeal’s decision. The material contained in the Albino Lake storage facility is not part of the company’s resources or reserves, has not been included in any technical studies, and a Scotiabank analyst said he did not assign any value to the asset.

Skeena is focused on revitalizing the Eskay Creek and Snip projects, two past-producing mines located in Tahltan territory in the Golden Triangle of northwestern B.C. In November, 2023, the company released a definitive feasibility study for Eskay Creek.

The feasibility study is based on proven and probable mineral reserves for open-pit mining of 39.8 million tonnes containing 3.3 million ounces of gold and 88 million ounces of silver. That amounts to 4.6 million ounces of gold equivalent (AuEq).

The mine schedule plans for delivery of 39.8 million tonnes of mill feed grading 2.6 g/t gold and 68.7 g/t silver (3.6 g/t AuEq) over a 12-year mine-life.

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