ENGO Engagement in Consultations on Proposed Amendments to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER Schedule II) to March 31, 2012

Call for Delegates


When: The Detour Mine project consultations took place November 24 in Cochrane, ON and November 28 in the National Capital Region. Two other MMER Schedule II consultations are expected to follow at presently undetermined times prior to March 31, 2012 (see individual project descriptions below).

Where: The Detour Mine project consultation sessions were held in Cochrane, ON and the National Capital Region. Other MMER Schedule II consultations are expected to follow at other local locations across Canada and in the National Capital Region (see individual project descriptions below).

Number of ENGO delegates sought: An open number of ENGO delegates are sought for a roster of potential ENGO delegates to future MMER Schedule II consultations to take place prior to March 31, 2012.

Deadline to apply: The original application deadline has passed, however, applications to the ENGO delegate roster of potential ENGO delegates to future MMER Schedule II consultations will remain open until March 31, 2012.

Delegate honorariums will be paid at a rate of $350 per day for a total of four days. Associated travel and accommodation expenses required to attend the consultation session will be covered in accordance with the Government of Canada Treasury Board Guidelines.

The RCEN Mining Caucus has been invited by Environment Canada to establish a roster of ENGO delegates from which up to 4 will be selected to participate in consultations on proposed amendments to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) to add lakes as tailings impoundment areas (TIAs) to Schedule II of the Regulations anticipated to take place prior to March 31, 2012.

RCEN selected ENGO delegates residing within the province of the proposed project will have the option of attending either the local consultation session or the session in the National Capital Region. RCEN selected ENGO delegates residing outside the province of the proposed project will be invited to attend the session in the National Capital Region only. Local consultation sessions will be open to the public.

To apply:
If you are interested in participating, please complete the online application form addressing each of the selection criteria listed below. Please indicate if you have a specific project consultation for which you have an interest to participate (see individual project descriptions below).

For more information, please contact Daniel Casselman, RCEN Senior National Caucus Coordinator, at (613) 728-9810 ext. 236.

Selection Criteria:
1. Understanding and acceptance of the delegate expectations listed below
2. Understanding of mine tailings management issues in Canada and Internationally
3. Previous experience with regulatory amendment consultations associated with Schedule II of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations would be a strong asset
4. Ability to participate, work professionally, constructively and collaboratively with other stakeholders and with government representatives
5. Respect of timelines and commitment to the process
6. RCEN member in good standing

Delegate Expectations:
1. Prompt establishment of delegate letter of agreement with Environment Canada
2. Make own travel and accommodation arrangements
3. Participate in a preparatory teleconference with other ENGOs
4. Review and analyse background documents provided associated with the proposed regulatory amendment
5. Provide input at the consultation session and in writing following the session
6. Adequately represent ENGO constituent community
7. Complete a brief report for the ENGO community following the consultation session

Background Information:
RCEN selected ENGO delegates will receive background information on the Tailings Impoundment Area (TIA) proposal for the mining project in question, along with technical documentation developed as part of the environmental assessment, where applicable. RCEN selected ENGO delegates will be expected to provide comments at the consultation session and in written form following the consultation session.

For each specific regulatory consultation, Environment Canada will establish a letter of agreement with each ENGO delegate that will specify the reimbursable costs associated with participation. Reimbursement will include an honorarium of $350 per day for a total of four days to cover time for document review and analysis, participation in the consultation session, and the submission of written comments. Associated travel and accommodation expenses required to attend the consultation session will be covered in accordance with the Government of Canada Treasury Board Guidelines. Environment Canada reserves the right to deny any expenses that are unreasonable or have been incurred outside Treasury Board guidelines.

Environment Canada currently anticipates that there could be up to three consultation sessions conducted during 2011-2012, specifically those associated with:

1. Detour Project in Ontario, November 24 and 28, 2011;
2. Mont Wright Mine in Quebec, which is expected to move forward in late fall 2011 or early winter 2012, and
3. Red Chris Project in BC, which is expected to move forward in late fall 2011 or early winter 2012.

Background Information on Individual Mining Projects:

Separate consultations will be conducted on each project over the course of the fall and winter of 2011/2012.

Detour Gold Mine Project

Selected ENGO Delegates:

Ramsey Hart, MiningWatch Canada, ramsey[at]miningwatch.ca
Walaa Hirzallah, Sierra Club, QC, walaa.hirzallah[at]gmail.com
Robert Rattle, Clean North, robert14robert[at]yahoo.ca

ENGO Delegate Consolidated Submission

The proposed Detour Lake Project (DLP) is located approximately 185 km northeast of the Town of Cochrane in northern Ontario and 8 km west of the Ontario-Quebec border. The Detour Lake deposit was discovered in 1974 and an open pit and underground mine operated on the site from 1983 to 1999. Facilities remaining from these operations include a flooded open-pit and underground mine, waste rock disposal areas, and a tailings management facility. Other associated infrastructure was removed as part of mine reclamation.

Detour Gold Corporation, the proponent, plans to construct and operate the open-pit gold mine based on a production capacity of approximately 55,000 tonnes of ore per day with a mine life of 16 years. The new mine would be significantly larger than the previous operation. The DLP would consist of an open pit mine, an ore processing plant, and tailings and waste and waste rock management facilities. It would also include site access roads, an airstrip, power transmission lines, an explosive factory and magazines, water management facilities, buildings, ancillary mine infrastructure, and associated activities. The deposit contains an ore reserve of 8.8 million ounces of gold, and production is projected to start in early 2013. It is expected that 350 million tonnes of tailings, 70 million tonnes of overburden, and 960 million tonnes of waste rock would be generated over the life of the mine. A portion of the waste rock would be potentially acid generating.

The proposed tailings management facility would overprint a small muskeg pond and a portion of a muskeg drainage feature. One of the two proposed waste rock disposal areas would impact two additional muskeg drainage features. All four of these water bodies are frequented by fish. Thus, the proponent would not be able to deposit tailings or waste rock into these water bodies unless, Schedule 2 of the MMER is amended to designate these water bodies as tailings impoundment areas (TIAs).

A comprehensive study level environmental assessment (EA) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) is currently underway with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) both identified as Responsible Authorities. Environment Canada has been identified as a Federal Authority.

The total capital cost for the construction of the DLP is estimated at approximately $1.18 billion with annual operations phase spending of approximately $235 million per year. The DLP is expected to create direct employment for a peak workforce of approximately 1,200 persons during the construction phase.
The DLP site is located within the overlapping traditional territories of the Moose Cree First Nation, Taykwa Tagamou First Nation, and Wahgoshig First Nation, Métis Nation of Ontario, Timmins Métis, and Northern Lights Métis Community Councils. Other local communities involved in the Project include the towns of Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Moosonee, Smooth Rock Falls and Kirkland Lake, the Township of Black River-Matheson, and the City of Timmins.
Consultations on possible MMER amendments related to this project are scheduled for November 24 and 28, 2011.

Mont Wright Mine

The Mont Wright Mine is an open-pit iron mine is located approximately 17 km from the town of Fermont, on the west bank of the Lake Hessé, and 320 km north of Port-Cartier and Sept-Îles, Quebec. The mine is owned by ArcelorMittal S.A. The mine, previously owned by the Quebec Cartier Mining Company, has been in operation since 1973, and currently consists of an open-pit mine, an ore crusher and a concentrator, a maintenance workshop, a tailings and waste rock disposal facilities, and a train loading system for the shipment of ore concentrate to Port-Cartier.

The mine has reserves and resources of one billion tonnes of ore with an iron content of approximately 30%. The concentrator process yields an ore concentrate with an iron content of over 66%. The tailings from the concentrator process, which are primarily silica based sand, are sent to a tailings management facility. The crusher/concentrator facility is capable of producing 14 million tonnes of iron ore concentrates annually.

To the best of Environment Canada’s knowledge, the Mont Wright Mine is the only remaining metal mine that was operating when the MMER came into force that is depositing mine waste into a natural, fish-frequented water body which is not listed on Schedule 2 of the MMER.

Since 1973, Lake Hessé has been used for tailings disposal, and the lake is divided into three separate sections. The most northerly section, north of a dike and rail line that cuts across the lake, is completely filled with tailings, and will not be added to Schedule 2. The two sections south of the dike are part of the mine’s current effluent treatment system and these portions of Lake Hessé would be added to Schedule 2.

A major upgrade of the effluent treatment system was undertaken in the early 1980’s to address problems associated with red water. This red water was caused by the presence of fine particles in the water column of iron minerals and iron stained quartz. It was not related to acid rock drainage. As a result of releases of red water from the mine, fish, including salmon, in the downstream Pékans and Moise rivers were tainted and water and sediment quality were degraded.

Since the implementation of the effluent treatment system, red water has been effectively managed. The treated effluent is discharged from the southern outlet of the lake, and it has consistently been in compliance with the effluent discharge limits that are specified in the MMER.

The objective of the proposed amendment is to ensure that the southern portion of Lake Hessé can continue to be used as part of the effluent treatment system for the Mont Wright Mine. To offset the loss of fish habitat that would occur as a result of the continued use of Lake Hessé as part of the effluent treatment system, the proponent has developed a fish habitat compensation plan which has been approved by DFO. DFO consulted with local Aboriginal groups and communities on the proposed fish habitat compensation plan in 2008 and early 2009. The proponent has begun implementation of some components of the plan, which consists of the enhancement of fish habitat in six tributaries of Lake Barbel, about 110 km south south west of Lake Hessé.

There has been no environmental assessment associated with the proposed MMER amendment, since there have been no changes in the operations of the Mont Wright Mine since CEAA came into force that would trigger the requirement a federal environmental assessment.

It is worth noting that earlier this year ArcelorMittal Company announced a proposed expansion of the mine which would increase the annual ore concentrate production to 24 million tonnes. The company has not yet provided a project description for the expansion project.

Consultations on proposed amendments to add Lake Hessé to Schedule 2 of the MMER are expected to take place in late fall 2011 or early winter 2012.

Red Chris Gold-Copper Mine Project

The Proponent of the Red Chris Project, Imperial Metals Corporation, plans to construct and operate the Red Chris Gold-Copper Mine Project, an open pit gold-copper mine, located approximately 18 km southeast of the village of Iskut and 80 km south of Dease Lake in north-western British Columbia. The proponent is proposing the development of a 30,000 tonnes per day open-pit mining and milling operation with an estimated mine life of 25 years.

The proponent is proposing to construct a tailings management facility in the headwaters of Trail Creek, a portion of which are fish-frequented.

A screening level EA under CEAA was undertaken by the proponent, and the Screening Report for the proposed project was completed on April 19, 2006. The Screening Report concluded that taking into account the implementation of the proposed mitigation measures, that the Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. During the environmental assessment process, the proponent considered alternatives for tailings disposal, but it should be noted that this consideration of alternatives was undertaken prior to July 2008 when Environment Canada first provided draft guidelines to project proponents on assessing alternatives for tailings disposal.

Following the completion of the federal EA, Mining Watch Canada filed a legal challenge against the Government of Canada and the proponent with respect to the determined scoping of the project. The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court of Canada, which issued its final decision on January 21, 2010. The Court concluded that whether a project undergoes a comprehensive study or a screening is determined in relation to the project as proposed by the proponent, and that if any component of the proposal is listed on the Comprehensive Study List Regulations, a comprehensive study will be required. The Court also concluded that the Red Chris project EA should be considered complete and that a comprehensive study on this project would not be required.

The BC Environmental Assessment Office led consultations with the proponent, local governments, First Nations, federal and provincial agencies, and other communities of interest (with emphasis in Steward, Iskut, Dease Lake, and Telegraph Creek) to ensure input into the EA process. The proponent is now in the final stages of an evaluation of areas of potential archaeological interest to First Nations and the development of a fish habitat compensation plan in consultation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Consultations related to this project are expected to take place in late fall 2011 or early winter 2012.

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