Groups demand greater scrutiny through joint review panel
TORONTO, Nov. 7, 2011 /CNW/ - Today Ecojustice and CPAWS Wildlands
League are calling on Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent and
Ontario's Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley to appoint an
independent joint review panel to assess a proposed mega-mine for
chromite in northern Ontario by the American-based Cliffs Resources
The public interest groups are supporting the demand earlier this month
by Matawa and Mushkegowuk First Nations that the federal Minister
conduct a review panel.
The Cliffs project is the first proposed mine in this vast, intact area.
The environmental groups are concerned that mining will cause massive
permanent changes to sensitive ecosystems and local communities in
Ontario's Far North.
"The cumulative impacts of this project are wholly unknown at this point
and approval of the first one will most likely lead to multiple others
being developed. Just how much mining can one watershed sustain before
its health is compromised?" said Anna Baggio, Director, Conservation
Land Use Planning for CPAWS Wildlands League.
Public interest groups have called on governments this year to conduct a
regional assessment of mining in Ontario's Ring of Fire area to ensure
that the total extent of impacts on the area will be fully considered
before mining development proceeds any further.
"Communities and indeed all concerned Canadians need this type of
critically important information before massive exploitation of Ring of
Fire mineral deposits commences, at the very least we need a joint
review panel," says Baggio.
Contrary to the assertions of Cliffs Resources, an environmental
assessment by a "joint review panel" would be far superior to the
current process of "comprehensive review study" that the federal
government has initiated. A joint review panel will avoid having
multiple assessment process federally and provincially and will ensure
that local First Nations who will be most impacted by this project will
have a role in deciding how it can be developed. Additionally,
concerned Canadians will be able to participate and provide submissions
in public hearings to impartial panel members.
"The Matawa and Mushkegowuk First Nations need a joint review panel in
order to address concerns about how this project will impact their
communities and the environment," said Justin Duncan, staff lawyer for
Ecojustice. "Doing so will ensure those communities have a stronger
voice on a project that will transform Ontario's Far North."
The federal and provincial Ministers of the Environment have the
discretion to reach an agreement to bump up the environmental
assessment of Cliffs Chromite Project to a joint panel review. For
example, the Ministers struck a joint review panel for the proposed
Marathon platinum and copper mine in August of this year. One of the
main reasons for such a decision is public concern. Ecojustice and
CPAWS-Wildlands League hope that other members of the public, including
other companies operating in the Ring of Fire encourage Canada and
Ontario to conduct a more thorough assessment of the project.
SOURCE CPAWS Wildlands League
For further information:
Anna Baggio, Director, CPAWS Wildlands League (cell) 416-453-3285
Justin Duncan, Staff Lawyer, Ecojustice (416) 368-7533 ext.22
For more information see www.wildlandsleague.org and ecojustice.ca