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Category Archives: Mining

Agnico Eagle Upper Beaver Gold project – ORA Comments

The ORA strongly urges the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) to determine that a federal Impact Assessment is required to ensure that the ecological, social, and cultural effects of this proposed Project are rigorously assessed and mitigated. A federal IA would ensure that the potential ongoing cumulative effects of this Project on the environment, Indigenous communities and the public are fully addressed to ensure a more environmentally and socially sustainable outcome. 

Upper Beaver Gold Project – IAAC Portal.

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Drought Induced Flux of Metals from Peatlands in Watersheds Vulnerable to Extreme Events, Erik Szkokan-Emilson

Erik J. Szkokan-Emilson, S. Watmough, and J. Gunn. – Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, Canada

Recently a study was published that is very relevant to hydroelectric peaking facilities that hold water back to produce power during peak demand hours.  When water is held back for up to 24 hours, large areas of the downstream can become dewatered and dry, only to be flooded again when water is released to produce power.  Also, when the headpond is depleted it can take up to 24 hours to refill the headpond, depending on river flows, and shorelines and adjacent wetlands can become dry, only to be rewetted when the headpond is filled – this goes on daily in a peaking facility.  Check out the study:


“Climate change is predicted to cause an increase in frequency and severity of droughts in the boreal ecozone, which can result in the lowering of water tables and subsequent release of acidic, metal-contaminated waters from wetlands. We believe that in areas where historical deposition of metals and sulphur was severe, these episodic pulses of metals could reach concentrations sufficiently high to severely affect aquatic communities in receiving waters and cause a delay in biological recovery. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of drought on the chemistry of water draining from two Sudbury peatlands with widely contrasting peat organic matter content to determine the response of stream water chemistry to drought from peatland types in the region. Stream samples were collected using ISCO™ automated water collectors from June to November 2011. Following a period of drought, there was a decline in pH and a large increase in concentrations of sulphate and metal ions (Al, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn) in water draining both peatlands, with extreme concentrations occurring over a period of about two weeks. At the site with the higher peat organic matter content there was an increase in metals that have a high affinity to bind to DOC (Al, Cu, and Fe) during the onset of drought. This study demonstrates a dramatic response to drought at two sites that differ in metal and nutrient pool sizes, hydrology, and topography, suggesting the potential for a majority of peatlands in the region to experience this response. Efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems and protect freshwater resources must take into account these processes, as disruptions to biogeochemical cycles are likely to become more prevalent in a changing climate.  Click here for more.

Also, below is a slide presentation relating to this study.

Victor Mine – DeBeers Application for Amendment to their Permit to Take Water — EBR Posting 011-9596

Victor Mine – De Beers, near Attawapiskat First Nation


“ORA is in full support of the submission made by Mr. Charles Hookimaw, an Attawapiskat First Nation member.  The proponent’s duty to consult impacted stakeholders and First Nation communities is paramount to an open, transparent and accountable approvals process, and is constitutionally mandated.  Many impacted stakeholders live in remote communities that have no access to internet, and it is inexcusable that the proponent has made no effort to meet with the Attawapiskat First Nation community, especially when this operation could have long lasting impacts on water quality, water quantity, and heavy metal contamination of local fisheries.” Continue reading

Blue-green Algae bloom on Ella Lake, Vermilion River – November 2012 to March 2013

An Ella Lake resident has just reported that the Blue-green Algae bloom is still persisting.  So all local residents, cottagers and fishermen should continue to refrain from drinking, boiling, or using the water for the sauna.

Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, Faculty of Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology has taken a special interest in our winter outbreak, and has offered to examine a sample to determine the strain of blue-green algae present in Ella Lake.

Vermilion River Stewardship and the Beaver Lake Sports and Cultural Club are very concerned about public safety, and have requested signage warning of the blue-green algae to be posted at Ella Lake and Wabagishik Lake boat launches. Continue reading

Cliffs Ferrochrome Processing Facility – Comments on Terms of Reference

Vermilion River Stewardship has commented on the Terms of Reference for the proposed Ferrochrome Processing Facility, to be located on the outskirts of Sudbury, Ontario – see comments below.  This facility would be situated near the top of the Vermilion River Watershed, and has the potential to negatively impact water quality and water quantity, as well as pose a significant threat to public health and safety.   This proposal would turn chromite into ferrochrome, which is in turn used to make stainless steel.

MiningWatch has conducted a literature review of environmental and human health issues associated with mining and processing the metal. The complete literature review and three summary fact sheets are available below.

Complete Literature Review (PDF 846 KB)

Potential impacts of mining and processing chromite. Fact Sheet 1 (PDF 594 KB)

Working with chromite: things you should know. Fact Sheet 2 (PDF 565 KB)

Living near a chromite mine or processing facility: things you should know. Fact Sheet 3 (PDF 447 KB)

Cliffs considers Vermilion River for smelter’s water supply

Vermilion River

Vermilion River

CBC Morning North – Click to listen to interview with Linda Heron
Other industrial development planned for Vermilion as well

Cliffs Natural Resources says it’s evaluating a number of water sources, including the Vermilion River, for its proposed ferrochrome smelter in Capreol in Sudbury — and that has the local stewardship committee concerned.

Vermilion River Stewardship chair Linda Heron said the river can’t take any more development.

“For years the water levels have been going lower and lower, so we question what we can afford to lose additionally out of the river,” she said.

There are already five proposals for hydro-electric dams that could end up on the Vermilion River, in addition to the Cliffs project. Xeneca has four proposed Hydro electric dams on the Vermilion River, and Water Power Group plans to put a hydroelectric dam in Capreol. Continue reading

Report exposes two decades of errors and omissions behind failure to protect Temagami’s Wolf Lake

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         Wed. May 16, 2012

Report exposes two decades of errors and omissions behind failure to protect Temagami’s Wolf Lake

Ontario to decide fate of world’s largest ancient red pine forest in May 31 mining lease decision

Toronto – Today the Wolf Lake Coalition is releasing a new report documenting Ontario’s failure to protect Wolf Lake in spite of ten compelling reasons to protect this unique and irreplaceable ecological gem.  The report exposes a shocking record of inaction that has left the world’s largest ancient red pine forest open to mining 25 years after the MNR’s own forester identified the need to protect it.

Ontario is poised to make a major decision on the fate of the Wolf Lake ancient forest on May 31 as it chooses whether to renew a mining lease in the old growth for a further 21 years.  If the lease is renewed the area’s critically endangered ecosystem could become a strip mine should a viable mineral find be made.  If the lease is allowed to lapse the 300 year old pines under that lease will automatically gain full protection as park land, as promised in 1999.

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Lake Shore Gold Timmins West Mine Site – Site Visit Report, Tatachikapika River, by Larry Robichaud

Site Visit Report

Location: Lake Shore Gold Timmins West Mine Site

Date: December 6th 2011

Purpose: Effluent Treatment System Tour


Backgrounder: A report to the Ministry of Environment was submitted on October 27th 2011. The report was entered because of the river bank erosion and native forest deterioration below the end of pipe at the Tatachikapika River effluent discharge from the Timmins West mine. The ensuing intentions of the individual who submitted the report was to engage up front with the mining operation in an effort to find out how the river bank situation was to be fixed and also how the treatment system operates.

Mr. Anthony Makuch President of Lake Shore Gold called me 20 days later with the message that his operation’s management team would contact me within a few days to discuss my degree of participation and interest with regards to resolving the Tatachikapika River bank erosion issue. Continue reading