Government of Canada approves the Murray River Mining Project
December 13, 2017 — Ottawa — The Government of Canada is working to protect the environment for future generations while growing our economy.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced the federal Cabinet's decision to approve the Murray River Mining Project, located in central British Columbia, following a federal environmental assessment. The Project, by HD Mining International Ltd., will mine metallurgical coal, known as coking coal, which contains low sulfur and phosphorus content, to be used for the production of steel.
In the Environmental Assessment Decision Statement, the Minister established 104 legally-binding conditions to protect the environment, including mitigation measures and follow-up program requirements that must be fulfilled by the proponent throughout the life of the project. The proponent will be required to consult with directly affected First Nations on the implementation of the conditions. The First Nations will be provided with the support necessary to enable meaningful input. The conditions include measures to address effects of the project on human health, fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, Southern Mountain Caribou and other wildlife, and use of lands and resources by Indigenous peoples. As well, the conditions require the proponent to avoid, mitigate or offset impacts on caribou habitat.
The conditions also include, for the first time, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions associated with a coal mine. The proponent is responsible for limiting methane emissions to 500 000 tonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide per year.
The Project will be located within the range of the threatened Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou. The herds that form the Central Group are critically important to First Nations in the region. Habitat fragmentation has already contributed to the extirpation of one of the sub-populations of the Central Group – the Burnt Pine Herd. Other caribou populations in the region are either declining or have been stabilized at very low numbers that are unlikely to be sustainable in the absence of meaningful and effective action by the federal and provincial governments, First Nations and stakeholders.
The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership, and to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Consistent with this commitment, the Government will work in partnership with the Government of British Columbia and local First Nations, under the authority of the Species at Risk Act, to achieve the objectives of the federal recovery strategy for Southern Mountain Caribou. The Government of Canada will also work with the province and First Nations to take immediate actions to stabilize and grow the population of the Central Group of the Southern Mountain caribou to self-sustaining levels and work towards the expeditious re-establishment of a meaningful First Nations harvest pursuant to Treaty 8.
Caribou recovery depends on a long-term, landscape-based approach, which will require significant and sustained investment by governments, industry and other stakeholders, in partnership and collaboration with First Nations.
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, Indigenous groups, and expert federal departments including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, and Natural Resources Canada.
If the proponent chooses to proceed, it will need to obtain additional provincial and local government authorizations and/or permits. The Agency will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Minister's legally-binding conditions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
"The environmental assessment of this project benefited from thorough scientific and technical expertise, and took into account input provided by the public and Indigenous groups. Our government intends to renew and strengthen its commitment to collaboration and partnerships with affected First Nations communities on all aspects of caribou recovery. Long-term investment, habitat protection and restoration, and coordinated federal, provincial and First Nation actions, including the conditions set out in my decision statement, are necessary to strengthen environmental protection and promote caribou recovery in British Columbia."
– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
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