February 16, 2004

Adams Mine dewatering permit decision slowed by review of more than 23,000 comments

It will take some time for the Ontario Ministry of Environment to decide on an application by Adams Mine Railhaul for approval to dewater the south pit of Adams Mine, near Kirkland Lake, as MOE officials wade through more than 23,000 written submissions on a draft permit to take water (PTTW) for this proposed undertaking. The Ministry estimates that review and consideration of the comments received could take several months.

The company's application for a two-year PTTW was accompanied by an environmental study report on the Adams Mine landfill project, prepared by the consulting firms of Gartner Lee and Marshall Macklin Monaghan. Removal of approximately four million cubic metres of water from the mine's south pit is required before further landfill development work can be done.

After a technical review of the application, the MOE posted the draft PTTW as an information notice on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) registry, with comments invited between November 14, 2003 and January 5, 2004. The posting was not mandatory, as the proposed permit is a step in obtaining a number of approvals for an undertaking previously approved under the Environmental Assessment Act. A PTTW is necessary, however, as the Ontario Water Resources Act requires authorization for proposed withdrawals of more than 50,000 litres of water per day.

Once a decision on the permit is made, it will be posted on the EBR registry (also as an information notice), including a summary of key concerns and how these have been addressed. The review process could have various results:

1) If the application is denied, or if it is approved with conditions unsatisfactory to the company, Adams Mine Railhaul could appeal the decision to the Environmental Review Tribunal.

2) If the PTTW is issued and not appealed by the company, the water would be pumped from the south pit, through treatment facilities (approved by the MOE) and discharged into local receiving waters. The company would also, however, have to obtain legal access to adjacent lands and meet the conditions stipulated in the draft PTTW.

3) If the permit is issued and continuing monitoring and reporting indicate adverse environmental effects or interference with other water takings, the permit may be amended or revoked.

In addition to the PTTW for dewatering the south pit, the Adams Mine landfill project must still clear a number of approvals, such as: legal access to adjacent Crown lands (from the Ministry of Natural Resources); approval under the Ontario Water Resources Act for a long-term PTTW to pump water from the south pit during landfill operations and for on-site leachate management and stormwater management facilities; and approval under the Environmental Protection Act for landfill gas control facilities and flares.

Adams Mine Railhaul must at the same time meet more than 100 conditions required under existing approvals. This includes 66 conditions under the Environmental Protection Act, 37 under the Environmental Assessment Act, and ten under the Ontario Water Resources Act.

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