Study of second proposed Ring of Fire mine underway – by Shawn Bell (Wawatay News – November 18, 2011)

Wawatay News is Northern Ontario’s First Nation Voice with offices in Sioux Lookout, Timmins and Thunder Bay.

As the controversy over the environmental study of a proposed Ring of Fire mine drags on, another proposed mine in the Ring of Fire has started a similar environmental assessment process. The environmental assessment for Noront Resources’ proposed Eagles Nest mine kicked off Nov. 15 with the opening of a 30-day public comment period.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) decided to do a comprehensive study, the same process chosen for Cliffs Natural Resources’ proposed chromite mine.

CEAA spokesperson Celine Legault said that the agency determined there was no need for the Noront project to be subjected to a more intensive Joint Review Panel (JRP) assessment. “At any time during the study the (federal) minister of environment can refer the assessment to a Joint Review Panel,” Legault said.

He said the decision to refer the project to a JRP would be based on the project having “likely, significant adverse effects” and “major public concerns.”

A JRP review would involve a panel of independent experts overseeing the review, and include community meetings where oral testimonies and concerns could be raised.

In contrast, a comprehensive study is done by the CEAA itself. In a comprehensive study only written submissions are accepted.

The Noront comprehensive study will involve three public comment periods where any member of the public can submit a written concern to the CEAA, Legault said. The first public comment period has a deadline of Dec. 16.

During the second public comment period meetings will be held in affected Aboriginal communities, Legault said.

She added that consultation with Aboriginal groups has been ongoing since Noront submitted its project description in the spring of 2011.

Noront’s assessment now falls in the middle of what has become a political battle over the Cliffs’ chromite mine environment assessment. During the past month the Cliffs project has come under attack from affected First Nations and environmental groups, who cite the potential for serious environmental affects in calling on the government to implement a full JRP assessment of the project.

In early November Matawa First Nations pledged to pull its support for the Ring of Fire development unless a JRP assessment of the Cliffs project was called.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Wawatay News website: http://www.wawataynews.ca/archive/all/2011/11/18/study-second-proposed-ring-fire-mine-underway_22078

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