Canada approves Akasaba West Copper-Gold Mine Project
Thursday, Jun 28, 2018
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced Cabinet's decision to approve the Akasaba West Copper-Gold Mining Project, following a federal environmental assessment. The project, proposed by Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, will be to construct, operate and decommission an open-pit copper and gold mine, located 15 kilometres east of Val-d'Or, Quebec. This project, when it is operational, is projected to create approximately 100 direct jobs, according to the proponent.

In her Decision Statement on the Akasaba mining project, the Minister found the project is not likely to directly cause significant adverse environmental effects, because of the relatively small size and short operational life of the project. However the Minister found that, in conjunction with other natural resource development in the area, the project could contribute to significant adverse cumulative effects on the ability of Indigenous People to carry out traditional activities, such as hunting and gathering, in the area.

The Minister's Decision Statement establishes more than 100 conditions to protect the environment, including mitigation measures and follow-up program requirements that Agnico Eagle Mines Limited must fulfill. The proponent will also be required to consult with affected First Nations on the implementation of the conditions, which include measures to protect human health, fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, and the use of lands and resources by Indigenous People, including the woodland caribou herd of Val-d'Or whose numbers have declined significantly in recent years.

In particular, to address the potential effects of the project on the Val-d'Or caribou herd, the proponent will undertake progressive reclamation of the project's roads to reduce habitat disturbance, manage noise and light to limit disturbance to caribou, and conserve and restore four times the amount of caribou habitat as will be disturbed by the mine.

At the same time, the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec have formally committed to work together on additional measures to protect the Val-d'Or herd and other boreal caribou populations in Quebec. Discussions will continue to develop those measures in the weeks ahead.

The Government of Canada is also working collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples to protect the Val-d'Or boreal caribou herd and conserve critical habitat. The federal government is investing $1.26 million over five years to support research and conservation efforts led by the Lac Simon, Kitcisakik and Long Point First Nations to protect and sustain the herd. Those efforts, supported through a conservation commitment by the Government of Canada and the three First Nations, include measures such as habitat restoration and management, population monitoring, predator control, ongoing research and awareness-raising activities.

The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. As outlined in the Government's interim approach and principles on environmental assessments, the Government has committed that Indigenous Peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated.

This environmental assessment decision follows a thorough and science-based environmental assessment conducted by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) with the participation of the public, First Nations, and expert federal departments including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, and Natural Resources Canada.

Following this decision, the proponent will need to obtain additional provincial and local government authorizations or permits. The Agency will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Minister's legally-binding conditions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

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