Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
The wheels are starting to turn on what will be the first panel review in the Yukon under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.
The assessment board on Monday issued an invitation to the public to provide input into guidelines that will form the basis of the information the Casino Mining Corp. must provide the panel to ensure an adequate review.
Casino is proposing to build the largest open pit mine in the Yukon’s history – largest by a long shot.
The public has until May 19 to provide input on the 82-page document available online or over the counter at either the board’s central headquarters in Whitehorse or at one of the six designated offices across the Yukon.
Once the input is received, the assessment board’s executive committee has given itself 14 days to finalize the guidelines, officially termed the Environmental and Socio-economic Effects Statement.
Lewis Rifkind of the Yukon Conservation Society explained this morning this is an opportunity to ensure any issues or questions one might have are addressed in the project proposal.
If, for instance, one has a question about the potential threat of earthquakes to the tailings dam, individuals can look to see if the matter is raised in the draft guidelines, and if not, provide input, he pointed out.
He said if somebody thinks the proposal should discuss the history of earthquake activity in the area going back hundreds of years instead of 10, for instance, they can say so.
This is an opportunity to tell Casino what type of information should be included, Rifkind said.
At lot of it, he added, has probably been already addressed in the previous review of the project at the executive committee level.
Rifkind said after the company delivers its official proposal is the time to sit down and assess if you agree or disagree with the project or specific aspects of the project.
The conservation society has an issue with the proposed height of the tailings dam, and will be saying so when it comes time to comment on the project specifics after the proposal is received, he pointed out.
“The Executive Committee is not seeking views on the project proposal previously submitted by CMC or whether you agree with the project,” says the assessment board’s notice of the guidelines sent out Monday.
“At this stage, the objective is to specify the information CMC should be required to include in its ESE Statement (project proposal) for the Casino Mine Project.”
Under the process, the panel will not be established until the executive committee is satisfied the project proposal is in sufficient detail to begin the official review.
The initial project proposal submitted to the assessment board was under active review by the executive committee for about 18 months, up until the executive announced in February it felt the project should be elevated to a panel review. It’s the first project to go before a panel since the assessment board opened it doors in 2005.
The executive committee explained in February it decided to elevate the project to a panel for essentially two reasons.
“A, the project involves technology that is controversial in Yukon, and B, the project might contribute significantly to cumulative adverse environmental or socio-economic effects in the Yukon.”
A panel is a quasi-judicial body with greater authority than the executive committee, including the ability to subpoena witnesses, call evidence and issue orders.
Casino is proposing to build the largest open mine in the Yukon’s history, dwarfing the former Faro lead-zinc mine.
It’s anticipated processing of ore will top out at 120,000 tonnes per day, compared to the 12,000 tonnes a day at Faro on a good day.
The tailings dam will be among the largest dams in the world, standing 286 metres high and spanning 2.5 kilometres.
The company maintains the positive impact for the Yukon economy will be enormous, and for Canada as well.
The decision by the executive committee to elevate the project to a panel review almost two years into the review by the committee raised concerns among the mining and business community over certainty in the review process.
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