The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.
Cliffs Natural Resources is conducting an environmental assessment of mining activity in Northwestern Ontario as part of the potential Ring of Fire mining development.
While it is still too early to determine any negative impacts mining activity might have on the environment, Jason Aagenes, director of environmental affairs at Cliffs, said Wednesday the company is still in the early stages of an ongoing process.
“We have been collecting baseline data for a number of years,” Aagenes said.
“We will be starting the actual environmental assessment in the upcoming months.” The environmental assessment is collecting baseline data on the main aspects of the environment, including biological, physical and human, as well as traditional knowledge.
It is being conducted in consultation from First Nations and municipalities. It will examine environmental impacts of the four main components of the project, including the mine to be built near McFaulds Lake, an ore processing facility near the mine, the transportation system and the ferrochrome production facility.
The mine site will be open pit and is expected to remove 10,000 tonnes of crude ore a day. It will operate for an estimated 30 years.
The transportation network includes 260 kilometres of all-season road to the mine site, which could see 50 to 100 trucks a day.
Aagenes said Cliffs has held several open houses, including sessions Wednesday in Thunder Bay, and has seen a lot of interest from the public on environmental concerns.
Cliffs is working on a comprehensive assessment with the federal government and an individual assessment with the provincial government. Aagenes said efforts by the government to cut back the red tape on environmental assessments have not had an impact on the project to this point.
“We have not noticed any negative effects or cutbacks in terms of this project,” Aagenes said.
“There continues to be high interest and high oversight on this project from the federal and provincial governments,” he said.
Aagenes is looking to have the environmental assessment completed by early 2013 and approved by mid-2014.
While it is still too early to determine any negative impacts on the environment, Aagenes did say that when it comes to mining, there are several things to be considered.
“In terms of any mining operation, you have to be very cognizant of water impacts, air impacts, anything from noise, light, dust,” he said.
“The purpose of the environmental assessment is to take into account all of these aspects and compare it to the existing environment.”