August 27, 2012
Uranium mine gets green light from feds
The federal environment minister has approved a proposal by Areva Resources Canada for the construction of a uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan.
“We appreciate the government’s dedication to improving regulatory reviews while maintaining a strong focus on safety and environmental protection,” said Vincent Martin, CEO of Areva Resources Canada.
“The completion of Midwest’s environment assessment is a significant step forward for the project, but let us hope regulatory reform will improve the timelines of current and future reviews.”
A joint venture led by Areva Resources Canada Inc. is proposing the mining and milling of ore from a uranium deposit 700 kilometres north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, near the eastern edge of the Athabasca Basin.
Environment Minister Peter Kent recently announced that the proposed project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.
However, this was contingent on the implementation of the mitigation measures and follow-up programs described in the comprehensive study report.
As a result, Kent has referred the project back to the responsible authorities, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada, for appropriate action.
In reaching his decision, Kent considered the Comprehensive Study Report and the comments received from the public on that report.
The authorities are responsible for ensuring the implementation of the mitigation measures, as well as the follow-up to determine the effectiveness of the measures taken to mitigate any adverse environmental effects and to verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment.
The environmental review for the Midwest project began in 2006, so some people are citing the project as an example of the need for regulatory reform in Canada.
“The approval of this EA (environmental assessment) has taken over six years and been an arduous process and is a key milestone in the development of this project,” said Ron Hochstein, president and CEO of Denison Mines Corp., which has a 27.17 per cent stake in the project.
Areva Resources Canada Inc. has the largest share in the joint venture (69.16 per cent), while the smallest partner Ourd Canada Co. Ltd. has 5.67 per cent.
The joint venture plans to extend the mining and milling activities at the McClean Lake facility to include mining uranium ore at the Midwest site by open pit mining methods.
The project also involves hauling ore along a road that links the Midwest site with the existing operation at McClean Lake; as well as milling the uranium ore at the JEB Mill located at McClean Lake.
The Midwest Project would be operated as part of the McClean Lake operation with the mining activities integrated into the operations at McClean Lake.
The components of the proposed Midwest project include:
development of the Midwest ore body as an open pit mine;
dewatering and depositing of material in the Mink Arm portion of South McMahon Lake to access the ore;
construction of site infrastructure and mine waste management facilities;
construction of a mine water treatment plant at the Midwest site, which will include a reverse osmosis treatment process;
construction of a 17 km transportation and utility corridor linking the Midwest site with the existing McClean Lake Operation; and
development of a pipeline along the transportation corridor to transport waste water from the Midwest site to the McClean Lake Operation for release to a effluent management system.
A 2006 report estimated it would cost $258.7 million to develop the Midwest project as an open pit mining operation, inclusive of $156.3 million of capitalized prestripping costs.
The estimate provides for the acquisition and installation of mine mobile equipment, equipment maintenance facilities and offices, power distribution, dewatering wells, drainage management and control systems, and a number of other project support and equipment items.
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