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Category Archives: Mining

ERO-019-6951, 6963, 6928 & 6853 – Proposed Streamlining to Permit-by-Rule, Waste Management, Stormwater Management and Site Dewatering Activities – ORA Support

Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) has prepared the following analysis and recommendations in response to the four above-noted Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) notices, which propose dramatic changes to Ontario’s permit-by-rule framework. The undersigned environmental, conservation, and civil society organizations have endorsed CELA’s submission. Collectively, it is strongly recommended that the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks not move ahead with the four proposals…

We are willing to meet and discuss CELA’s submission at your convenience.

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ERO-019-7598 – Proposed Regulatory Amendments to the Build More Mines Act, 2023

“Open-pit Cppper Mine – Mission Complex” by docentjoyce is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Actually, this government does not deserve the trust of its constituents because it has eroded all of our environmental protections and public engagement and consultation in related policy and legislation over the last 5 years. Therefore, when it claims that “the intention is not to fundamentally change the underlying rules but rather to clarify their source and application”, it is unbelievable – no longer credible – trust has been lost.  Especially since this proposal and the entire Build More Mines Act, 2023 was a total gutting of the Mining Act.

While streamlining mining legislation and policies can bring about certain benefits such as increased efficiency and reduced bureaucracy if done correctly; excessive streamlining without adequate safeguards can impact the environment, communities and even the long-term sustainability of the mining industry.  It will also lead to environmental degradation, community displacement and conflicts, social and economic imbalances, and undermine public trust with the lack of transparency and accountability.

To avoid these negative consequences, it is essential to strike a balance between streamlining mining regulations for efficiency and ensuring that there are robust environmental, social and legal safeguards in place. Proper consultation with local communities, adherence to international best practices and strict enforcement of responsible mining standards are crucial for achieving sustainable and responsible mining practices. This is not the case with any of these amendments.

Consequently, ORA rejects this proposal to streamline the Regulation.

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Bill 71, ERO-019-6715 – Proposed Building More Mines Act, 2023

Re:  Bill 71
        ERO-019-6715 – Proposed Building More Mines Act, 2023
        ERO-019-6749 – Consequential administrative amendments under the Mining Act
        ERO-019-6750 – Proposed regulatory amendments to closure plan and rehabilitation

A very disturbing reality has been revealed, that this government is clearly moving away from evidence-based decision-making that is grounded in science and, instead, is moving fully into a total lack of regard for environmental and stakeholder protections, and Indigenous treaty rights. This government is going too far in its efforts to cut red tape and deregulate environmental protections in Ontario.

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Agnico Eagle Upper Beaver Gold Project – Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines & Public Participation Plan

The Agency has deemed the Project to be within federal jurisdiction and required it to undergo a federal Impact Assessment, and yet Agnico Eagle (AE) is planning to move forward with their advanced exploration as soon as weather permits. ORA objects to the Project moving forward with any advanced exploration activities that would result in any damage to the environment.

AE boasts about setting the “gold standard”, “for over 60 years Agnico Eagle has been attracting investment to Canada, from those who seek a mining company committed to make mining work better for communities, shareholders and the planet”.[1]  ORA submits that Stakeholders expect AE to set the “gold standard” on this Project by undertaking the most environmentally and socially rigorous, advanced and responsible project “for communities, shareholders and the planet”. [1] Agnico Eagle Twitter Posting, 22 November 2021
ORA comments requesting a federal review under the Impact Assessment Act, 2 October 2021.
Upper Beaver Gold Project – IAAC Portal.

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ERO 019-4219 – Moving to a project list approach under the EAA

West Credit River Brook Trout – Photo by Steve Nokams

When these unregulated projects come home to roost, and the environmental impacts begin to damage or destroy highly valued public interests, such as our lakes and rivers, endangered species, our drinking water, and the economy, the government will pay a very high price.  Unfortunately, the damage that will result from these irresponsible and negligent actions will not easily be undone, and in many cases will not be resolved in our lifetimes.

If the government wants to incorporate “one-project, one review”, then it must be a robust EA process with fulsome public and Indigenous consultation, or it may find the process much longer than it might have intended.

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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:

Abstract:

“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

Excerpt:

“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