Mine hearings to take place next year – by Carl Clutchey (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – September 27, 2012)posted in Chromium/Platinum Group Metals, Ontario Mining, Thunder Bay |
The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.
Public hearings into a proposed copper and palladium mine on Marathon’s outskirts could take place early next year if an independent panel reviewing the project decides it has enough information to proceed.
The three-member panel of two scientists and an engineer must decide by Nov. 26 if an environmental impact statement submitted this summer by Stillwater Canada is sufficient to set the stage for up to 30 days of public hearings.
Stillwater is proposing an open-pit operation just north of the town’s airport. The mine, with one main pit and four satellite pits, is projected to operate for nearly 12 years and provide about 400 direct jobs. Surrounded by the Pic River and some inland lakes, the mine site would require a new two-kilometre access road and a new four-km hydro transmission corridor.
If the panel decides that it does have enough information to proceed, the hearings could take place in January, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panel co-manager Marie LeGrow said Wednesday during an update in Marathon about the ongoing review.
Dates and locations for the hearings have yet to be set, but the hearings are likely to be held in Marathon and Pic River First Nation — the communities closest to the proposed mine.
Under the revised Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012), the joint provincial and federal panel reviewing Stillwater’s proposal must have a report submitted to both governments in about a year’s time.
Prior to the act being updated, such reviews were not subject to specific timelines; but now they must be completed in two years.
The review into Stillwater’s project has about a year left because it started in 2011.
Earlier this year, the federal government said reviews into mining projects should be streamlined so that their economic benefits can be realized sooner.
After the panel submits its reports, the Stillwater project could be approved, rejected or approved with conditions.
Unlike the chromite mine being proposed in the Ring of Fire by Cliffs Natural Resources, Stillwater’s project is being subjected to an independent review panel and public hearings, because the federal government earlier determined it had “the potential to result in significant adverse environmental effects.”
Some groups, like the Lake Superior Binational Forum, have expressed concerns about the mine’s close proximity to the big lake.
In its environment impact statement (EIS), Stillwater concluded that any environmental impacts were manageable and not adverse.
The public can submit comments on the EIS document until Oct. 26. More information can be found at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s website at ceaa-acee.gc.ca.
LeGrow and other CEAA officials have been travelling through Northwestern Ontario this week to update residents about the review into the Stillwater project.
The information session schedule concludes today:
• Pic River First Nation: Lands and Resources building, 1-3 p.m.
• Metis Nation of Ontario: Marathon’s Zero-100 Motel, 7-9 p.m.