Presentation on theme: "Environment Environnement Canada Environment Canada’s Intervention Presentation Cumberland Resources Ltd.’s Meadowbank Gold Mine Final Public Hearing March."— Presentation transcript:
Environment Environnement Canada Environment Canada’s Intervention Presentation Cumberland Resources Ltd.’s Meadowbank Gold Mine Final Public Hearing March 27-31, 2006 Baker Lake Chesterfield InletRankin Inlet
Overview Environment Canada’s written submission focuses on issues related to: Tailings management; Groundwater quality and flow; Surface water quality; Migratory birds and species at risk; Air quality; Closure and reclamation planning; and Spill contingency & emergency response planning. This presentation is a synopsis of those key issues which remain outstanding from the environmental assessment process.
Overview CRL has worked very cooperatively with EC during the course of the review of the FEIS. EC and CRL participated in a teleconference on March 2, As a result of this teleconference and subsequent discussions, many of EC’s issues have been resolved. Recommendations marked with a “ ” indicate those recommendations that CRL has already agreed to implement.
Scheduling of TIAs under the MMER Section 36(3) of the Fisheries Act prohibits the deposit of a deleterious substance into fish frequented waters, unless allowed by regulation. Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) allow the deposit of waste rock or effluent containing any concentration of a deleterious substance into a tailings impoundment area (TIA). A TIA is defined as a confined area that is not a natural water body frequented by fish, or a water or place set out in Schedule 2 of the MMER.
Scheduling of TIAs under the MMERs If a project proposes to use a natural water body frequented by fish as their tailings disposal area, it must be added to Schedule 2 of the MMER before it can be used as a TIA. The addition of a TIA onto Schedule 2 requires an amendment to the MMER. Amendments to regulations require Governor- in-Council approval
Scheduling of TIAs under the MMERs The scheduling process will involve developing a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement for submission to Cabinet. If the EA for the Meadowbank project receives a positive decision, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is satisfied that there is sufficient information to allow the development of a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement, DFO will provide written direction to EC to begin the process of listing the TIA on Schedule 2 of the MMER.
Scheduling of TIAs under the MMERs Requirements: DFO must be satisfied with the compensation plan, which achieves No Net Loss of Fish habitat, and a letter of credit must be supplied; EA has shown that there will be no significant adverse environmental impacts; Alternatives analysis has shown that all possible reasonable alternatives or combination of alternatives are not viable for the project; It is shown that the deposit can be confined; Fish habitat is not critical;
Scheduling of TIAs under the MMERs Requirements, con’t: Reasonable expectation of long-term compliance of MMER at the final discharge point; Acceptable post-closure / abandonment plans; Life span of the mine is arguably sufficient to justify the habitat destruction; Economic viability / social considerations / community support / benefit to all Canadians; & National consultation has occurred.
Tailings Management Issue The elimination of fish-bearing waters should be one of last resort and must be fully justified in light of all available disposal alternatives. Recommendation A revised Tailings Management Alternatives Assessment be developed which incorporates all available information into one document. CRL should undertake to complete public consultation specific to the various alternatives for the storage of tailings for the Meadowbank project, prior to the regulatory phase. The results of the consultation should be incorporated into the revised alternatives assessment.
Water Quality Issue: Baseline Data - Groundwater Quality Significant differences exist between the two existing baseline data sets for groundwater quality. Recommendation The existing ground water monitoring wells should be resampled as soon as possible upon opening of the camp as a term/condition of the project certificate. The operating condition of the existing wells should be assessed, any defective wells be replaced, and 3 to 4 additional semi-annual sample sets be collected. Data should be used in conjunction with the existing ground water quality data to re-evaluate the salinity and major ion concentrations and the load of dissolved metals carried by the ground water flow into the pits during operation. This information should be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Water Quality Issue: Quality of Pit Water Inflow While ground water quality data was collected during two sampling rounds in 2003 and 2004, the ground water analyses from the second round of samples were not used in the estimates of some parameters for the quality of the pit water inflow. If concentrations of TDS and other major ions have been underestimated in the groundwater that up wells into the open pits, impact predictions for the pit water quality may be inaccurate.
Water Quality Recommendation The quality of ground water upwelling in the open pits should be re-evaluated for the regulatory stage using existing ground water data from both rounds of sampling. Revised estimates of ground water quality flowing into the pits should be incorporated into the water quality modeling for the site to assess the impacts of pit water discharges on the environment and develop remedial options for disposing of poor quality water, if needed. This information should be provided in advance of the regulatory stage. After 1 year of additional data collection from the groundwater monitoring wells, the water quality modelling for the site should be re-evaluated to provide realistic baseline predictions that can be compared to actual performance to assess if impact predictions are accurate. This should be completed prior to mine start-up.
Water Quality Issue: Surface Water Quality Predictions In order to understand and properly assess all of the effects on the aquatic receiving environment, a better appreciation of potential effects associated with the effluent discharge is needed. The information presented does not explicitly identify the potential ecological effects associated with the alteration of water quality in Third Portage Lake and Wally Lake. Recommendation In the absence of an analysis of the ecological impacts in the receiving waters immediately adjacent to the effluent discharge point, management objectives be developed to minimize the extent of any such impacts.
Water Quality – Toxicity Testing Toxicity testing is one of the best tools available to test how harmful the effluent might be to aquatic life Acute testing is commonly done using rainbow trout, and measures how many die over a short time frame when put into 100% effluent. This is for end-of-pipe. Chronic tests measure likely effects in the receiving environment, using such measures as growth and reproduction, in early life stages of fish, zooplankton (such as water fleas) and algae. The area where chronic toxicity occurs (“mixing zone”) must be kept as small as possible.
Water Quality – Regulatory Issues The following is a summary of those water quality issues that EC recommends can be addressed in the regulatory stage of the project: Development of contingency plans for the treatment of turbid water during dewatering. Development of detailed plans for water treatment for the tailings / reclaim pond discharge, and on a contingency basis for the Vault pit attenuation pond discharge. Submission of further details regarding the effluent outfall configuration, and predictions for the likely behavior of the plume. Bathymetric information for Wally Lake should also be provided.
Water Quality – Regulatory Issues Regulatory Issues, con’t… Submission of information regarding the treatment of camp sewage. Preparation of treatment plans for the attenuation and reclaim pond waters prior to transfer of effluent to the open pits. The consequences of long term stratification of the pit lakes should be identified and contingency plans examined. Commitment to monitor the contents of the collection sump located at the Baker Lake marshalling area prior to discharge to Baker Lake.
Wildlife and Habitat Issue: Proximity to Important Waterfowl Habitat The project area is only 15 km away from the western edge of an area identified as a Key Migratory Bird Habitat Site. This area is important for moulting and migrating waterfowl.
Wildlife and Habitat Recommendations Avoid activities during mid-June to late August in the Key Migratory Bird Site and also in any other areas noted to have large concentrations of geese. Conduct annual aerial surveys for waterfowl in the Regional Study Area during the construction phase and for at least the first three years during the operation of the mine. This information should be included in a revised Wildlife Mitigation and Monitoring Plan.
Wildlife and Habitat Issue: Monitoring along All-weather Road The proposed frequency of monitoring of breeding birds along the all weather road is not sufficient to identify if impacts are related to natural fluctuation or are a result of the project. Recommendation Breeding bird plot surveys and transects along the all weather road should be conducted annually during the construction phase and for at least the first three years during the operation of the mine.
Wildlife and Habitat Issue: Aircraft Disturbance to Migratory Birds A number of scientific studies have shown disturbance of birds by aircraft even when aircraft are flying above 300 m. Most of the aircraft disturbance to birds decreases when the aircraft where flying above 610 m, although higher aircraft altitudes may be required to minimize disturbance when birds are in large concentrations. Recommendation Environment Canada recommends that aircraft maintain cruising altitudes of at least 610 m above ground during point to point travel, and 1000 m vertical and 1500 m horizontal distance from any observed concentrations of migratory birds.
Wildlife and Habitat Issue: Species at Risk CRL has not identified specific effects, mitigation measures or monitoring for the Short-eared Owl. Recommendation Identify effects, mitigation measures and monitoring for the Short-eared Owl. This information should be provided in a revised Wildlife Mitigation and Monitoring Plan.
Other Issues – Air Quality Issue: Waste Incineration The Government of Nunavut is a signatory to the CCME Canada-wide Standard (CWS) for dioxins and furans and CWS for mercury emissions. As of 2001 all new facilities are required to meet the emissions standards. Therefore, CRL needs to demonstrate compliance with the CWS for dioxins and furans and the CWS for mercury.
Other Issues – Air Quality Recommendation Conduct annual stack testing to demonstrate that the incinerator is in compliance with the CWS emission standards. Provide annual reports of the quantity and type of waste generated at the mine site during construction and operation. Reassess the selection of incinerators and justify its decision in regards to best available economically feasible technologies. This justification will be provided in advance of the regulatory stage. Provide a list of all personnel trained to operate the incinerator.
Other Issues: Closure & Reclamation Planning Issue: Disposal of Wastes in Open Pits Given that the mined-out pits will be reflooded and returned to the aquatic ecosystem, EC does not support the use of the pits as permanent storage facilities for wastes other than waste rock and possibly lake sediments. Recommendation In order to ensure that water quality is protected post-closure, CRL should not use the open pits as waste disposal locations.
Other Issues – Spill Contingency & Emergency Planning Issue: Spill Contingency Planning The documentation currently provided by CRL fails to adequately demonstrate the key elements of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Recommendation The Spill Contingency Plan be revised in preparation for the regulatory phase. Specific details regarding the contents of the plan are provided in EC’s written submission.
Summary Environment Canada’s review of the Meadowbank Project has revealed some outstanding issues that should be addressed. Environment Canada feels that these issues can be mitigated through the development of appropriate adaptive management plans, implementation of mitigation plans, ongoing monitoring at the Meadowbank project, and the inclusion of all required information in the various regulatory applications.
Environment Environnement Canada Thank-you! Any Questions? Colette Spagnuolo Environmental Assessment / Contaminated Sites Specialist Environmental Protection Operations Environment Canada Iqaluit, NU Anne Wilson Water Pollution Specialist Environmental Protection Operations Environment Canada Yellowknife, NT Presenters: