Fredericton – CCNB Action is asking for the termination of the current public review period for the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Sisson mine project. A thorough review of the report by numerous experts concludes that the Assessment report is not complete and therefore must be returned to the proponent for additional information.
On September 30, 2013, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) released the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared by Northcliff Resources for their currently proposed Sisson mine project — an open pit mine for tungsten and molybdenum mine located approximately 25km northwest of Stanley. The release of the report triggered a 45 day public comment period, which ends October 14.
CCNB Action, with participant funding from CEAA, has hired 11 experts to review and comment on the baseline environmental conditions, the residual environmental effects, proposed mitigation measures and cumulative impacts of the project.
During the review period, it became clear that fundamental baseline information has not been reported and important modelling exercises have not been undertaken. For example:
The current design of the water treatment plant, which is the basis of long term water management on site, is “conceptual.” At this stage in the process, this is simply unacceptable as the proponent intends to mitigate many of the environmental effects of the project byway of this plant.
There is no standard economic cost-benefit analysis of the project. Currently, the public has no way of knowing if the project’s benefits significantly outweigh its economics costs, let alone justify its impacts on the environment.
Surprisingly, there has been no assessment of the impact on the environment from a potential breach, small or large, of the tailings dam. It is a fact that tailings dams do fail and have done so in Canada. The implications of this, particularly on the wild Atlantic salmon population of the Nashwaak watershed, which has been recommended to be listed on the Federal Endangered Species list, needs to be considered.
The risks to human health have not been properly assessed. Important data are missing from the human health risk assessment, such as baseline data on coarse particulate matter and proper sampling area for potentially impacted residents, including Napadogan.
The data presented sampling fish habitat is not scientifically defensible; more field work is needed to be able to have a better understanding of the current baseline conditions.
“We are quite puzzled as to why CEAA would release a grossly incomplete EIA report for public comment,” says Inka Milewski, CCNB’s Science Advisor and a reviewer of air quality and public health aspects of the report. “It is very unfair to expect us, and the public, to make informed comments about such a large project without the essential information to do so.”
Ramsey Hart, the Canadian Program Director at the national organization MiningWatch Canada, has also reiterated this request. “It is the proponent’s duty to undertake the work laid out in the Terms of Reference for the project and it is our opinion that they have not adequately done that.” Hart has been a part of numerous federal reviews and has reviewed many EIA reports for mining projects in Canada. MiningWatch Canada has sent a supporting letter to CEAA.
CCNB Action is urging CEAA to restart the review process and public comment period after a complete EIA report is made available.