Commenting period [on Ring of Fire] now open – by Harald Carmichael (Sudbury Star – October 18, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. hcarmichael@thesudburystar.com

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has just launched the first of three public consultation periods for a federal environmental assessment of Cliffs Natural Resources’ Black Thor chromite deposit in the Ring of Fire area of northwestern Ontario.

The agency’s draft Environm e nt a l Impact Statement Guidelines has been prepared and identifies potential environmental effects to be addressed and information that needs to be included in Cliffs’ Environmental Impact Statement. It can be viewed on the agency’s website at www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca (Registry reference number 11-03- 63927). The document is also available in print by request.

The deadline to submit a comment with this first round of public input is Nov. 16. The agency is also making $40,000 available under its Participant Funding Program to assist groups and individuals to participate in the environmental assessment. Funding applications received by Nov. 16 will be considered.

“We put the Environmental Impact Statement on the website and now the people can write in, they can email, and there is a phone number if they want to talk to people,” Celine Legault, an agency spokeswoman said Monday, on the first day of the public consultation period.

When asked how many comments are made during a typical first-round public cons u l t at i o n period, L egault declined to give a figure.

“It really depends on the project,” she said. “We do all kinds of different projects all over Canada. It can vary a lot.”

The agency is responsible for studies to be carried out under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

It announced in early October it had determined an environmental assessment of the Cliffs project was required.

The project is also subject to the environmental assessment requirements of the Ontario Government.
A second public consultation will follow after the Cliffs’ Environmental Impact study is completed. A third will be held after the agency releases its final report on the project.

The project then has to get the approval of Environment Minister Peter Kent to proceed.

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