October 24, 2005

Consultants advise on Cape Breton mining EA, consultation begins on new gravel pit standards

A cumulative effects assessment of surface coal mining in Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), commissioned by Nova Scotia's Department of Environment and Labour, has made four recommendations for the environmental assessment of surface mining applications in the region. The report, prepared by consultants from Jacques Whitford's Dartmouth office, was released October 13. Its advice will be incorporated into the department's decision-making process,

"The report does not make an overall recommendation on surface coal mining in Cape Breton Regional Municipality," said Michael Baker, acting Minister of Environment and Labour. "It offers a decision-making tool that is, in many ways, unique to the area. We have one active surface mining application before us and we'll be consulting this report as we consider it and any future proposals," he added.

The report's recommendations address:

*a review of best management practices that might apply specifically to a proposed project;

*detailed reclamation planning, including standards, research, evaluation, and community involvement;

*community involvement in the application process, project activity, and reclamation; and

*the potential of effects of a surface mining project to interact with the effects of past, present, and future projects.

The report may be viewed on the department's Web site, www.gov.ns.ca/enla/ea/coalmining.asp.

In related activities, the department has released a discussion paper to initiate public consultation on updating provincial standards for sand and gravel pit operations. This follows an announcement this past June stating that operators of pits under two hectares in size no longer had to apply for an approval for their operations. At that time, Environment and Labour committed to consulting relevant interests concerning appropriate standards for all pits and quarries, regardless of size.

There are various issues surrounding pits and quarries. A number of issues are common to both excavation types, while others are unique to pits or to quarries. The newly-issued discussion paper focuses on pits. Quarries will be addressed in a future document.

The discussion paper on pit operations may be requested by calling 1-800-567-7544 or viewed on the department Web site, www.gov.ns.ca/enla. Written comments are due by December 16, 2005.

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