Environment featured

Open letter: Changes to Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy mine project should trigger a federal environmental assessment

May 20, 2021 

Honourable Sean Fraser,

Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and to the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

Re Atlantic Gold’s Proposal for Touquoy Mine Modifications 

Dear Mr. Fraser, 

I am writing on behalf of the St. Mary’s River Association, to express concern with Atlantic Gold’s request that some changes to their Touquoy mine be considered under a Provincial Class 1 Environmental Assessment. We feel this sets a dangerous precedent that could impact the Environmental process used for other mining and major resource development projects throughout the province.

Resource development like open pit mines have the potential to create major environmental issues through run-off, leaching of toxic materials, etc. and require a full and careful environmental assessment. By allowing “add-ons” or changes to fall under what the public may feel is a different process may encourage developers to submit their projects on a piecemeal basis. The public needs to have confidence that all aspects of the project receive a detailed assessment that would be required by a federal review. The public needs to be comfortable that developers are putting all information on the table and not holding back parts of their project with the hope that it can be approved at a later date under a different process.

We should not have to wonder if a proponent has left certain aspects of a project out with a plan to have them approved separately at a future date. In fact, at this point Atlantic Gold’s project has changed considerably. The modifications which would currently fall under the Provincial Class 1 Environmental Assessment requested do not consider all the changes in Atlantic Golds production plan. These changes to the entire production plan when implemented would be a substantial addition to the project. The addition of three new open pit production sites which would transport ore to Touquoy’s processing facility dramatically change the magnitude of the project. It is important to ensure that all aspects of a project be considered by the same process and hopefully before a shovel is put in the ground.

I am sure the proponent would argue that by themselves the proposed changes are minor and that the three additional open pit mine production facilities are separate projects, but as part of a mine operation of the scale of Touquoy with the addition of three new sites, they could well compound the environmental issues the entire mine operation would have on the surrounding area. Cumulative effects of all sites must be considered. The current assessment plan will neglect the broader environmental risks associated with the proximity of 4 mine sites all connected by the proposed haul roads, dust, and wildlife corridors etc. Because of the significant negative impact some mines have had on the environment, even minor operating plan changes should trigger a complete federal environmental assessment. Anything less gives the public the impression that something could be slipped by with less than diligent oversight. 

Thank you for considering the SMRA request to have all major resource development project (including changes) fall under the requirements of a Federal Assessment process.

Yours truly,

Scott Beaver, President St. Mary’s River Association

Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia BOJ3C0 

Note: the Saint Mary’s River Association is asking that people concerned about the changes to the Touquoy Mine project contact local Member of Parliament Sean Fraser or Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

See also: Podcast: Fighting a proposed gold mine in Nova Scotia

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  1. I agree with the letter Mr Beaver is submitting. How can we stand by and allow our waters and lands be raped for their resources. The St Mary’s River is a true gem to the province. Do we really want a toxic sludge pit only hundreds of meters away from such an important water system.
    Mainland moose is an endangered species and will be drastically effected by such a hall road through the middle of the province.
    All to proud of Nova Scotia to throw it all away. Give our lands and waters the recognition they deserve, hold back damaging our lands and rivers for short term projects with long lasting harmful environmental impacts.

  2. No mining in any area is acceptable!!
    We do not want the toxic runoff, the clearcutting , the roads , dust and noise!!
    We need to protect our precious waterways, wildlife and forests!!
    Once they are destroyed they will not come back!!
    When will we take all this into consideration and not let these bullying mining companies ruin our environment for gold. They are greedy and ruthless!!

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