FAQWhich permits and authorizations you require exactly?
In Quebec, we have to receive the approvals of the both levels of government, federal and provincial.
At the federal level, we have to submit the complete Environmental and Social Impact Assessment to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. After public hearings and an analysis of our study, they potentially will authorize the construction and operation of a mine, only if we respect all guidelines previously provided following our project notice submission. Also in their process, they consult all different governmental departments to have the insurance of our conformity. Our study have to satisfy the requirements of, for example, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, Aboriginals affairs and Northern Development Canada, etc.
At the provincial level, we have to submit a demand with an Environmental and Social Impact Study and meet all the standards asked by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs to obtain a Certificate of Authorization. We will receive a permit only if we can prove without doubt that will respect all provincial regulations, particularly the Directive 019, during the construction, the operation and the restoration of site after the mine life. Please note that the Quebec government possesses an Environmental Act and that the official law is constituted of more than sixty rules and regulations to respect and follow.
Please see the following sites for more information :
Do you have the permits to construct or operate this rare earth mining project located at 50 kms east of Temiscaming?
At the federal level, a description of the project was submitted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
At the provincial level, no application for permits has been submitted since more studies need to be completed before we can do so. At the best, the permits will be obtained late 2014.
Can this project pollute or damage the Kipawa River or the lake?
There are no intentions to pollute any river or any lake or to put anything in danger. If the studies on environmental impacts and the assessments from the governments demonstrate that there is a potential to pollute the water in a way that could not be managed adequately, the permits for exploitation would not be approved.
If after obtaining the permits, the mine is in operation, the studies are done, there happens to have traces of contamination, what happens?
If traces of contaminations are found, the mining operations would be suspended and would not be able to re-start until the problem is corrected.
How do we know if the environmental follow-ups are rigorously done?
These days, all mine operations including all industries in general, have to do rigorous follow-ups. For instance, a team of specialised technicians operate full time to ensure that these activities are taking place. There are well defined sampling programs and other programs in place to ensure that these follow-ups are done. This team regularly reports to the representatives of the respective ministries. If the rigorous follow-ups are not done, and/or do not meet the norms, mining operations would be suspended.
You have mentioned that one of the objectives is to recirculate 85% of the water used in the process. What happens with the 15%? Is this water returned to the environment?
In Canada, these days, very strict rules are in place in regards to mining. For example, the authorities require that industries recirculate as much water as possible in their process. In regards to the effluent water (that 15% in this case that cannot be recirculated and has to go back to the environment), we have water treatment plants that are in the design and engineering development stages that will address them. Government authorities have put rules in place to ensure that no contaminants will be in the effluent water or returned to the environment.
Considering that the Kipawa mining project is the first Rare Earth mine in Canada, are there any laws and regulations in place that work for this type of mine?
At both the federal and provincial levels, the laws and regulations have been built with some flexibilities to adapt to new projects in development and their specific conditions. This way, the laws do not require to be modified each time new developments appear.
To do follow-ups on surface water is one thing, but can we do adequate testing and follow-ups for the underground water?
We already have wells in place and underground water has already been sampled in order to determine the natural components presently there. If the project takes place, other wells will be added. A specific program for the underground water quality testing will be put in place to follow the government authorities’ guidelines.
How about air pollution?
As any open pit mine, it is about controlling the dust emissions due to the equipment movement and the blasting. For the equipment in movement for example, or other places where a high number of particles could be carried by the wind, dust control systems are in place. For the blasting (for the Kipawa Project about 1 per week), the dust will be verified and follow the regulatory rules in place by the governments.
Control systems will be put in place to ensure that the guidelines put in place by the government authorities are followed.
There will be road circulations with many trucks on the Maniwaki road. These trucks will carry chemical products and other supplies to answer to the needs of the mine and its operation. What happens if there is an accident? Could the water be contaminated in such a case?
At the moment, we anticipate during the mine operation, that about 12 trucks a day will deliver products to the site. The speed of 50 km/hour can be easily controlled by satellite. What is also important is that emergency plans are in place including respective teams dedicated to this task, if anything happens. This is all done, in collaboration with governmental and local authorities. In the case of an incident, the goal is to intervene as quickly as possible in an effort to protect the people and the affected area. All products can be contained and neutralized very quickly with good emergency management systems in place.
How many permanent positions will be created with this project?
In full operation, we estimate at this stage that 230 people will be employed. This activity will generate economic spinoffs of approximately $25 million per year in wages alone. Other businesses and suppliers will also benefit from this project. Results of the economic studies conducted, can be obtained upon request.
What happens when the project closes down? What happens to the residues and other elements? What will be the long term problems, if any? Will the burden of clean-up be left to the taxpayers?
Today, as part of the permit application, we need to submit a closing plan to government authorities. This plan is developed by external qualified firms, expert in the field. A component of this closing plan includes the closing and restoration costs.
Matamec has committed itself to put 100% of the restoration costs, in trust with the authorities of the Ministry of Natural Resources, as soon as the exploitation permits have been approved. This approach guarantees that the money will be there even in case of bankruptcy. In addition, Matamec will be using what is called progressive restoration, meaning that as the project evolves restoration and re-vegetation will take place. This approach will be used in an effort to minimize the environmental footprint, but also to confirm that the restoration program works well.
Either from observations on internet or other means, we can easily find some bad practices and experiences in relationship to different industries and mines from all across the world, why would you be different now?
Things have evolved significantly in the last fifteen to twenty years. The mining industry has experienced many challenges in the past, and many lessons have been learned from mining here and elsewhere. Fortunately, the industry is evolving and with corporate and collective consciences, we have industries that now operate with norms many times higher than the ones imposed by the governments.
In regards to other rare earth mines in the world, we cannot serve as a reference for those experiences. Their operations were not well regulated and often operated with no concern for the environment. Theses mines also have different minerals than the Kipawa Project ones.
Matamec is committed to use these lessons learned from other mines, to ensure that its activities in the Kipawa project will respect the environmental norms and the safety of the people we live and work with.
In general, the mines are first there for profits and do not really have concerns for the environment. Isn’t it the same for Matamec?
As with all other enterprise in our society, when it comes to profits, we have nothing to hide. Yes the Kipawa project has to be profitable in an effort to convince the investors. That being said, yes it has to be profitable but not to the expense of the environment and the people.