British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) : its implications for mine reclamation Sheehan, Stephen W. 1994

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Proceedings of the 18th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1994. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation THE CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ACT (CEAA) ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR MINE RECLAMATION Stephen W. Sheehan Environmental Assessment Scientist Environment Canada 224 West Esplanade, North Vancouver, B.C.  V7M 3H7 This paper has been prepared for the annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium to initiate a discussion of the New Act. 1. PURPOSE OF CEAA Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) is the new Act that will replace the federal government's Environmental Assessment Review Guidelines Order (EARPGO). Section 4 of the Act sets out the purpose of CEAA. The purposes of the Act are (a) to ensure that the environmental effects of projects receive careful consideration before responsible authorities take actions in connection with them; (b) to encourage responsible authorities to take actions that promote sustainable development and thereby achieve or maintain a healthy environment and a healthy economy; (c) to ensure that projects that are to be carried out in Canada or on federal lands do not cause significant adverse environmental effects outside the jurisdictions in which the projects are carried out; and (d) to ensure that there be an opportunity for public participation in the environmental assessment process 2. STRUCTURE OF CEAA Once it takes effect, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act will provide the basis on which the federal government departments undertake a self assessment prior to exercising powers or performing duties or functions in respect of a project. 167 Proceedings of the 18th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1994. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Section 5 of the Act defines the trigger mechanisms which initiate an environmental assessment. An environmental assessment is required where a federal authority: (a) is the proponent of the project ... (b) makes or authorizes payments or provides a guarantee for a loan or any other form of financial assistance to the proponent ... (c) has the administration of federal lands and sells, leases or otherwise disposes of those lands or any interests in those lands, or transfers the administration and control of those lands or interests to Her Majesty in right of a province, for the purpose of enabling the project to be carried out in whole or in part; or (d) under a provision prescribed pursuant to paragraph 59(f), issues a permit or licence, grants an approval ... The Law list Regulations identify all the specific sections of Federal Acts and Regulations that, if they apply to a project, trigger a requirement for an Environmental Assessment. The three other regulation lists that accompany the Act provide further clarification. These lists are as follows: (1) Comprehensive Study List - Regulations Prescribing those Projects and Classes of Projects for Which a Comprehensive Study is required. (2) Inclusion List Regulations - Regulations Prescribing Physical Activities not relating to Physical Works that may require an Environmental Assessment. (3) Exclusion List Regulations - Regulations Prescribing Those Projects and Classes of Projects for which an Environmental assessment is not required. Once a determination is made that an environment assessment is required, the federal authority (ie. department) referred to in section 5 shall ensure that the environmental assessment is conducted as early as is practicable in the planning stages of the project and before irrevocable decisions are made, ... The proponents of the mining industry need to be aware of federal interpretation of the term irrevocable decisions. The construction of roads and bridges, clearing of acres of land and/or excavations for foundations constitute irrevocable decisions. Any of these actions require prior completion of a screening process which may include a reclamation plan. 168 Proceedings of the 18th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1994. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Section 16 (1) of the Act defines the requirements for a screening or comprehensive study. Section 16 (1) states that Every screening or comprehensive study of a project and every mediation or assessment by a review panel shall include a consideration of the following factors: (a) the environmental effects of the project, including the environmental effects of malfunctions or  accidents  that may  occur  in connection  with the  project  and  any  cumulative environmental effects that are likely to result from the project in combination with other projects or activities that have been or will carried out; (b) the significance of the effects referred to in paragraph (a); (c) comments from the public that are received in accordance with this Act and the regulations; (d) measures that are technically and economically feasible and that would mitigate any significant adverse environmental effects of the project; and (e) any other matter relevant to the screening, comprehensive study, mediation or assessment by a review panel, such as the need for the project and alternatives to the project, that the responsible authority or, except in the case of a screening, the Minister after consulting with the responsible authority, may require to be considered. At present, in B.C., the federal requirements for a comprehensive study and/or screening report for a mine are largely met through the provincial Mine Assessment Review Process (MARP). For mining projects several separate federal approvals and/or the issuances of licences may be required. The application for approval to build a bridge is an example of a federal decision that may need to be made. The screening process is initiated when the proponent seeks approval for the construction of a bridge from Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). In this example CCG administers the Navigable Waters Protection Act. CCG applications are regularly sent to federal departments such as Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans to obtain an opinion on whether or not there are environmentally significant issues. The screening process is complete when a decision is rendered under section 20 of the Act. Applications for construction of bridges, dams and other approvals are not normally processed until a Mine Development Certificate (MDC) is issued. 3. CURRENT STATUS OF THE ACT The act was passed in June of 1992 but as of March 1, 1994 has not been proclaimed. The four regulations to implement the Act are the law list, the comprehensive study list, the exclusion list, and the inclusion list. Drafts of these four regulations were gazetted for public comment in September 1993. 169 Proceedings of the 18th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1994. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation They will come into force when the Act is proclaimed. We have been advised by our headquarters staff that proclamation of the Act is not expected before June. A certain period of time is required to train and organize the staff of the Agency that will replace the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office (FEARO) and other federal staff in the departments. Both the Environmental Assessment Branch, National Programs Directorate and FEARO are generating procedural guidance documents. 4. CEAA APPLICATION TO MINE PROJECTS Because federal authorities are required to ensure an environmental assessment is conducted prior to exercising their powers and since most mine projects require the issuance of a licence or approval from a federal authority, federal departments (ie. Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment Canada) have decide to participate in the provincial Mine Development Assessment Process (MARP). This decision to participate in the Province's review process has resulted in harmonizing federal and provincial environmental assessment review processes so that an efficient and effective review of a mine project is conducted. The end result of federal participation in the MARP is that once a federal authority agrees to the issuance of a Mine Development Certificate the requirement for a Environmental Assessment under CEAA is satisfied. Note that the federal letter of agreement to issue a Mine Development Certificate that is sent to the province for a project may contain many conditions and/or required commitments. Environment Canada coordinates the review for the federal authorities and provides some scientific and technical expertise. Once a MDC has been issued, and provided terms and conditions attached to the MDC respect federal concerns, federal authority approvals and applications for licenses can be processed. 5. REQUIREMENTS FOR RECLAMATION UNDER THE ACT Reclamation is covered in the Act particularly in certain sections. The most relevant section of the Act where provisions for reclamation are identified are found in the comprehensive study section 16(2). The projects and classes of projects set out in the Comprehensive Study List are the prescribed projects and classes of projects for which a comprehensive study is required (see appendix). There are four elements defined in section 16(2) that must be considered to ensure a comprehensive study is complete. (a)        the purpose of the project; The guidelines for providing the relevant information    required to satisfy this element of the 170 Proceedings of the 18th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1994. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation comprehensive study for mining projects have not been defined as of this date. (b) alternative means of carrying out the project that are technically and economically feasible and the environmental effects of any such alternative means; An alternative site selection for a mine can be viewed as non-existent simply because the ore deposit governs where the mining activity occurs. However there are many decisions that are made with respect to the location, the type and extent of processing of the ore that represent alternatives. Each alternative decision requires the evaluation of reclamation program. Reclamation is an inherent element in the evaluation of any alternative and must be considered. (c) the need for, and the requirements of any follow-up program in respect of the project; and The need for and the requirements of any follow-up program in respect of the project is largely covered via the provincial permitting system.   A condition of the Mine Development Certificate is to secure a reclamation permit from the province.    Reclamation permits are reviewed regularly and revised to accommodate any changes to the original plan. (d) the capacity of renewable resources that are likely to be significantly affected by the project to meet the needs of the present and those of the future. This element of the Act defines the concept of sustainable development. Essentially, two questions need to be addressed in the comprehensive study. What is the impact to renewable resources of the mining activity? Will the reclamation program restore those renewable resources upon completion of the mining activity? REFERENCE STATUES OF CANADA 1992 - Chapter 37 An Act to Establish a Federal Assessment Process Bill C-13 Assented To 23rd June, 1992 171 Proceedings of the 18th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1994. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Appendix PART V MINERALS AND MINERAL PROCESSING 14. The proposed construction, decommissioning or abandonment of (a) a metal mine, other than a gold mine, with a production capacity of 7000 t/d or more of ore; (b) a metal mill with an input capacity of 8,000 t/d or more of ore; (c) a gold mine, other than a placer mine, with a production capacity of 2,000 t/d or more of ore; (d) a coal mine with a production capacity of 3,000 t/d or more of coal; or (e) a potash mine with a production capacity of 1,000,000 t/a or more of potassium chloride. 15. the proposed expansion of (a) an existing metal mine, other than a gold mine, that would result in an increase in its production capacity of 50 per cent or more, or 3,500 t/d or more, of ore, if the increase would raise the total production capacity to 7,000 t/d or more of ore; (b) an existing metal mill that would result in an increase in its input capacity of 50 per cent or more, or 4,000 t/d or more, of ore, if the increase would raise the total input capacity to 8,000 t/d or more of ore; (c) an existing gold mine, other than a placer mine, that would result in an increase in its production capacity of 50 per cent or more, or 1,000 t/d or more, of ore, if the increase would raise the total production capacity to 2,000 t/d or more of ore; (d) an existing coal mine that would result in an increase in its production capacity of 50 per cent or more, or 1,500 t/d or more of coal, if the increase would raise the total production capacity to 3,000 t/d or more of coal; or (e) an existing potash mine that would result in an increase in its production capacity of 50 per cent or more, or 500,000 t/a or more, of potassium chloride, if the increase would raise the total production capacity to 1,000,000 t/a or more of potassium chloride. 16. the proposed construction decommissioning or abandonment, or expansion that would result in an increase in production capacity of more that 35 per cent, of (a)        an asbestos mine 172 Proceedings of the 18th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1994. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation (b) a salt mine with a production capacity of 4,000 t/d or more for brining; (c) an underground salt mine with a production capacity of 20,000 t/d or more; (d) a graphite mine with a production capacity of 1,500 t/d or more; (e) a gypsum mine with a production capacity of 4,000 t/d or more; (f) a magnesite mine with a production capacity of 1,500 t/d or more; (g) a limestone mine with a production capacity of 12,00 t/d or more; (h)       a clay mine with a production capacity of 20,000 t/d or more; (i)        a stone quarry or gravel of sand pit with a production capacity of 1,000,000 t/a or more; (j)        a metal mine located offshore or on the ocean bed; or (k)        any mine, other than a placer or uranium mine, that (i)        is not specified in any of paragraphs (a) to (j) or item 14 or 15, and (ii)       has a production capacity of 500 t/d or more. 173

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