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Decision Statement
Issued under Section 54 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012

to
New Gold Inc.
c/o Kyle Stanfield
Director, Environment & Sustainability

1111 Victoria Avenue East
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7C 1B7

for the
Rainy River Project

Description of the Designated Project

New Gold Inc. (the Proponent) proposes to construct, operate, decommission and abandon an open-pit and underground gold mine and an on-site metal mill (the Designated Project), located approximately 65 kilometres northwest of Fort Frances in the Township of Chapple, Ontario. Mining is proposed to occur for 15 to 20 years, with an ore production capacity of 27,000 tonnes per day. The on-site metal mill is proposed to have an ore input capacity of 21,000 tonnes per day. The Designated Project also includes the realignment of a portion of Highway 600 and the construction of a 230-kilovolt transmission line.

Conduct of the Environmental Assessment

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) conducted an environmental assessment of the Designated Project and commenced its work on October 19, 2012. The Agency conducted its assessment in a manner that met the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) and submitted its report to me in my capacity as Minister of the Environment.

Decision on Environmental Effects referred to in subsection 5(1) of CEAA 2012

In accordance with paragraph 52(1)(a) of CEAA 2012, after considering the report of the Agency on the Designated Project and the implementation of mitigation measures that I consider appropriate, I have determined that the Designated Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects referred to in subsection 5(1) of CEAA 2012.

In accordance with subsection 53(1) of CEAA 2012, I have established the conditions below in relation to the environmental effects referred to in subsection 5(1) of CEAA 2012, with which the Proponent must comply.

Decision on Environmental Effects referred to in subsection 5(2) of CEAA 2012

The carrying out of the Designated Project may require the following federal authorities to exercise a power or perform a duty or function conferred on them under an Act of Parliament other than CEAA 2012:

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada may issue an authorization under subsection 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act;
  • Environment Canada may propose an amendment under Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations; and
  • Natural Resources Canada may issue a licence under subsection 7(1) of the Explosives Act.

In accordance with paragraph 52(1)(b) of CEAA 2012, after considering the report of the Agency on the Designated Project and the implementation of mitigation measures that I consider appropriate, I determined that the Designated Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects referred to in subsection 5(2) of CEAA 2012.

In accordance with subsection 53(2) of CEAA 2012, I have established the conditions below in relation to the environmental effects referred to in subsection 5(2) of CEAA 2012, with which the Proponent must comply.

1. Definitions

1.1 Aboriginal groups
the Rainy River First Nation, Naicatchewenin First Nation, Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing First Nation (Big Island), Big Grassy River First Nation, Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation, Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) First Nation and Métis represented by the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Region 1 Consultation Committee.
1.2 Abandonment
the phase of the Designated Project where decommissioning activities have been completed.
1.3 Agency
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
1.4 Baseline
environmental conditions immediately prior to construction for the Designated Project.
1.5 Components of the Designated Project that may be associated with federal authorizations
Components of the Designated Project that would be included within the proposed ‘Tailings Impoundment Areas' to be considered for an amendment under Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations:
  • Tailings management area;
  • Water management pond;
  • Water discharge pond;
  • Constructed wetland;
  • Overburden pile;
  • West Mine rock pile; and
  • Sediment Ponds 1 & 2.

Geographic areas covered by the Fish Habitat Compensation Plan that would be associated with the proposed amendment under Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations:

  • West Creek Diversion Channel;
  • Stockpile Pond Diversion Channel;
  • Clark Creek Diversion Channel;
  • West Creek Pond;
  • Stockpile Pond; and
  • Clark Creek Pond.

Geographic areas where ‘serious harm to fish' would be authorized through the proposed Fisheries Act authorizations:

  • Clark Creek downstream of Clark Creek Pond;
  • West Creek downstream of the proposed Stockpile Diversion Channel and West Creek Pond; and
  • Marr Creek segments outside of the tailings management area, overburden rock pile, and west mine rock pile.

Geographic area covered by the Offsetting Plan that would be associated with the proposed Fisheries Act authorizations:

  • Teeple Road Pond.

Components of the Designated Project that may be associated with a licence pursuant to the Explosives Act:

  • Facilities for the manufacture and storage of explosives.
1.6 Construction
the phase of the Designated Project where physical activities in connection with site preparation, building or installation of any component of the Designated Project have commenced.
1.7 Contact water
water that comes into contact with mine infrastructure.
1.8 Days
calendar days.
1.9 Decommissioning
the phase of the Designated Project where commercial production has permanently ceased and actions have commenced to remove from service all or part of the Designated Project and continues until site restoration activities are complete.
1.10 Designated Project
the Designated Project as described in the Project Description of a Designated Project and the Environmental Impact Statement, submitted to the Agency on August 21, 2012 and December 3, 2013, respectively, to support the environmental assessment under CEAA 2012. (Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry Reference Number 80007)
1.11 Effluent
as defined in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, a hydrometallurgical facility effluent, milling facility effluent, mine water effluent, tailings impoundment area effluent, treatment pond effluent, seepage and surface drainage, treatment facility effluent other than effluent from a sewage treatment facility — that contains a deleterious substance.
1.12 Final discharge point
as defined in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, in respect of an effluent, an identifiable discharge point of a mine beyond which the operator of the mine no longer exercises control over the quality of the effluent.
1.13 Fish habitat
as defined in the Fisheries Act, spawning grounds and any other areas, including nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas, on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes.
1.14 Follow-up program
as defined in CEAA 2012, a program for (a) verifying the accuracy of the environmental assessment of the Designated Project; and (b) determining the effectiveness of any mitigation measures.
1.15 Mitigation measures
as defined in CEAA 2012, measures for the elimination, reduction or control of the adverse environmental effects of the Designated Project, and includes restitution for any damage to the environment caused by those effects through replacement, restoration, compensation or any other means.
1.16 Migratory bird
a migratory bird as defined in the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and includes the sperm, eggs, embryos, tissue cultures and parts of the bird.
1.17 Minor Creek System
the four minor creek systems in the pre-disturbance state that drain the Project Site and flow into Pinewood River, including Clark Creek and Teeple Drain; West Creek; Marr Creek; and Loslo Creek and Cowser Drain.
1.18 Modified Minor Creek System
the remainder of the pre-disturbance Minor Creek System and any new channels or ponds following construction of the Project Site, including West Creek Diversion Channel; Stockpile Pond Diversion Channel; Clark Creek Diversion Channel; West Creek Pond; Stockpile Pond; Clark Creek Pond; Teeple Road Pond; Loslo Creek downstream of the constructed wetland; and the unidentified creek linking Teeple Road Pond to Pinewood River.
1.19 Operation
the phase of the Designated Project where commercial production has commenced.
1.20 Project site
the geographic area occupied by the Designated Project
1.21 Proponent
New Gold Inc.
1.22 Species at risk
as defined in the Species at Risk Act, an extirpated, endangered or threatened species or a species of special concern.
1.23 Zone of influence
as defined in Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change's Technical Guidance Document for Hydrogeological Studies in Support of Category 3 Applications for Permit to Take Water, April 2008, the area within which a well might experience one or more meters of water level decline due to the proposed activities of the Designated Project.

Conditions

These conditions do not relieve the Proponent from any obligation to comply with other legislative or legal requirements by the federal, provincial or local governments.

2. General conditions

2.1 The Proponent shall, throughout all phases of the Designated Project, inform its actions in meeting the conditions set in this Decision Statement by the best available information and knowledge, based on validated methods and models, undertaken by qualified individuals and apply the best available economically and technologically feasible mitigation measures.

2.2 Where consultation is a requirement of the conditions set out in this Decision Statement, the Proponent shall first consult Aboriginal groups on the most appropriate manner in which to engage in consultation with them.

2.3 The Proponent shall submit to the Agency an annual report on the implementation of the conditions set out in this Decision Statement with a supporting analysis for each of the conditions for the preceding calendar year on or before March 31, starting from the commencement of any activities in connection with the carrying out of the Designated Project. Each annual report shall describe how the Proponent has considered and incorporated the factors outlined in condition 2.1 in the implementation of the conditions set out in this Decision Statement.

2.4 The Proponent shall, in consideration of the annual report for condition 2.3, provide documentation to the Agency indicating the results of any monitoring for conditions 3.8, 4.6, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 6.4, and 8.4. The documentation shall demonstrate whether the mitigation measures have proven effective and whether the predictions made during the environmental assessment were accurate. The documentation shall also detail any corrective actions taken by the Proponent should the mitigation measures prove not to be effective.

2.5 The Proponent shall make the report and documentation referred to in conditions 2.3 and 2.4 available on its website no later than 30 days after submission to the Agency.

3. Fish and fish habitat

The following conditions are pursuant to subsection 53(1) of CEAA 2012:

3.1 The Proponent shall minimize changes caused by the Designated Project to water levels and water flows in the Pinewood River, the Minor Creek System, and the Modified Minor Creek System in such a way as to protect fish and fish habitat, by implementing mitigation measures including, but not limited to:

3.1.1 recycling of water, for ore processing, from the tailings management area and ponds constructed for water management;

3.1.2 optimizing the timing, position and quantity of final effluent discharge between the final effluent discharge points;

3.1.3 filling the open pit during the decommissioning and abandonment phases in a manner which meets the flow requirements in the Pinewood River while allowing the pit to be filled as expeditiously as possible to reduce any adverse environmental effects; and

3.1.4 not taking water from the Pinewood River when flows are below the minimum threshold set by Ontario.

3.2 The Proponent shall, for all effluent, comply with the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, the Fisheries Act and any site-specific water quality requirements set by Ontario. To ensure compliance, the Proponent shall implement, at a minimum, the following mitigation measures:

3.2.1 treat effluent prior to discharge to the environment;

3.2.2 treat tailings slurry to break down cyanide and precipitate heavy metals;

3.2.3 collect site contact water and seepage in ditches and divert to either the tailings management area or water management facilities for release via final discharge points;

3.2.4 install and operate a water quality control structure in the constructed wetland to prevent the release of final effluent discharge not compliant with the Regulations or requirements; and

3.2.5 install secondary containment on pipelines that cross the West Creek Diversion Channel to prevent accidental discharge of effluent.

3.3 The Proponent shall control acid rock drainage and metal leaching so that all effluent and passive outflow from the Project Site comply with the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, any site-specific water quality requirements set by Ontario, and the Fisheries Act, as applicable at any time. To ensure compliance, the Proponent shall implement, at a minimum, the following mitigation measures:

3.3.1 line the former Clark Creek channel (under the east mine rock stockpile) with non-potentially acid generating material;

3.3.2 sort waste rock into potentially acid generating and non-potentially acid generating rock stockpiles through the development and implementation of a detailed mine rock segregation program using criteria for determining potentially acid generating material set by Ontario;

3.3.3 design and construct the perimeter ditching around the east mine rock stockpile and low grade ore stockpile to accommodate a 100-year flood event;

3.3.4 use potentially acid generating material only for the purpose of constructing the tailing management dam, where saturated conditions can be maintained. Potentially acid generating material must not be used for any other construction purpose;

3.3.5 place an engineered cover over the east mine rock stockpile and any remaining ore stockpiles at or before the decommissioning phase. The cover should be designed to prevent infiltration of water and to limit infiltration of air during the decommissioning and abandonment phases;

3.3.6 cover the tailings with water and maintain the tailings in a perpetually saturated state during the decommissioning and abandonment phases;

3.3.7 fill the open pit, in accordance with condition 3.1.3 and 3.1.4, as rapidly as practicable during the decommissioning and abandonment phases, using all available means, including directing drainage from the east mine rock stockpile into the pit; and

3.3.8 control water quality in the open pit lake during the abandonment phase.

3.4 The Proponent shall design and construct new road watercourse crossings for the realignment of Highway 600 to allow for fish passage in accordance with the Environmental Guide for Fish and Fish Habitat.

3.5 The Proponent shall design and construct new road watercourse crossings for the realignment of Highway 600 to meet the Highway Drainage Design Standards of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.

3.6 The Proponent shall design and construct water intakes meeting standards set out in the Freshwater Intake End-of-Pipe Fish Screen Guideline of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

3.7 The Proponent shall both offset any residual serious harm to fish in accordance with subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act and associated regulations, and compensate for the loss of fish habitat resulting from the deposition of a deleterious substance into a tailings impoundment area in accordance with the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, by recreating fish habitat in the West Creek Diversion Channel, West Creek Pond, Stockpile Pond Diversion Channel, Stockpile Pond, Clark Creek Diversion Channel, Clark Creek Pond, and Teeple Road Pond.

3.8 The Proponent shall monitor water quality and quantity, and fish and fish habitat, to determine the effectiveness of the mitigation measures under conditions 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.7. In doing so, the Proponent shall monitor, at a minimum:

3.8.1 water levels and flows, with respect to minimum flow thresholds for the Pinewood River set by Ontario, during periods of water taking as authorized pursuant to the Ontario Water Resources Act;

3.8.2 effluent quality as per the requirements set out in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations;

3.8.3 the effectiveness of recreated fish habitat. The monitoring shall be designed in accordance with any authorizations pursuant to subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act and associated regulations and/or the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations;

3.8.4 the effectiveness of the potentially acid generating and non-potentially acid generating rock segregation program through ongoing geochemical verification of the waste rock during any period that waste rock is generated;

3.8.5 water quality in the open pit, pursuant to any requirements set by Ontario in the Mine Closure Plan for the Designated Project; and

3.8.6 the maintenance of a perpetually saturated state of the tailings, for 25 years from the start of the decommissioning phase of the Designated Project.

4. Migratory birds

The following conditions are pursuant to subsection 53(1) of CEAA 2012:

4.1 The Proponent shall carry out all phases of the Designated Project in a manner that avoids harming or killing migratory birds, or disturbing, destroying or the taking of nests or eggs, with consideration of guidance provided in:

4.1.1 Environment Canada's policy on Incdental Take of Migratory Birds in Canada; and

4.1.2 Environment Canada's avoidance guidelines on General Nesting Periods of Migratory Birds in Canada.

4.2 The Proponent shall, at all times, implement noise reduction measures to control sound levels from machinery to avoid harassing migratory birds.

4.3 The Proponent shall install and use site lighting fixtures in a manner that reduces light pollution in the surrounding environment to avoid disturbance to nocturnal species, such as the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor).

4.4 The Proponent shall deter migratory birds from using the tailings management area.

4.5 The Proponent shall provide comparable replacement artificial nesting structures for Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) prior to the removal of existing nesting structures.

4.6 The Proponent shall monitor migratory birds, breeding activity and mortality, to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures under conditions 4.1 to 4.3. If monitoring demonstrates an inconsistency with those conditions, then document how this has been rectified. Monitoring starts at construction and ceases at the end of the decommissioning phase.

4.7 The Proponent shall monitor use of the tailings management area by migratory birds under condition 4.4 from the start of the operations phase to the end of the decommissioning phase.

4.8 The Proponent shall monitor the effectiveness of the artificial nesting structures created for Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica).

5. Health of Aboriginal Peoples

The following conditions are pursuant to subsection 53(1) of CEAA 2012:

5.1 The Proponent shall, during the construction, operations, and decommissioning phases of the Designated Project, control exceedances of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards and meet air quality requirements established by Ontario at the nearest human receptor by:

5.1.1 implementing fugitive dust best management practices;

5.1.2 maintaining site roadways to control silt loading;

5.1.3 using water sprays at the crusher and at active stockpiles;

5.1.4 using dust control equipment;

5.1.5 using low-sulphur diesel equipment and using pollution control equipment on mobile heavy equipment and meeting the Canadian Environmental Protection Act for the emissions from this equipment and vehicles; and

5.1.6 revegetating disturbed areas in a manner that minimizes all exposed dust sources.

5.2 The Proponent shall monitor air quality to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures under condition 5.1. Monitoring starts with construction and ceases at the commencement of the decommissioning phase.

5.2.1 The Proponent shall alert the Aboriginal groups in cases of exceedances of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards and air quality requirements established by Ontario at the nearest human receptor.

5.3 The Proponent shall monitor wells located within the open pit dewatering zone of influence, used by Aboriginal groups for drinking water, for water quality and quantity. Monitoring starts with construction and ceases after the first 10 years of the decommissioning phase.

5.3.1 The Proponent shall alert Aboriginal groups who use wells located within the open pit dewatering zone of influence for drinking water in cases of exceedance of water quality standards established by Ontario. The Proponent shall alert these Aboriginal groups as soon as possible once any exceedance is detected.

5.4 The Proponent shall monitor key contaminants, including mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead, for their concentrations in Northern Pike (Esox lucius) and Walleye (Sander vitreus) in the Pinewood River. Monitoring starts with construction and ceases 10 years after the start of the decommissioning phase.

5.4.1 The Proponent shall alert the Aboriginal groups in cases of exceedance of provincial, federal or international health-based criteria. The Proponent shall alert these Aboriginal groups as soon as possible once any exceedance is detected.

5.5 The proponent shall consult with the Aboriginal groups on the implementation of conditions 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4.

6. Current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes

The following conditions are pursuant to subsection 53(1) of CEAA 2012:

6.1 The Proponent shall provide access to private lands to Aboriginal groups for their current use of land, including hunting and plant harvesting.

6.2 The Proponent shall avoid use of herbicides along the transmission line corridor unless required to prevent fire hazards. The Proponent shall minimize the removal of non-woody vegetation within the transmission line corridor.

6.3 The Proponent shall, throughout all phases of the Designated Project, undertake progressive habitat restoration as per any requirements set by Ontario in the Mine Closure Plan for the Designated Project. Habitat restoration shall include:

6.3.1 a consideration of habitat types that support a diversity of wildlife species and traditional uses by Aboriginal peoples, including ungulates and furbearers, as well as native plant species previously collected at the Project Site for food and medicinal purposes; and

6.3.2 separating and stockpiling removed organic rich material during construction (of open pit and during tailings dam stripping) for use to support revegetation and other reclamation activities.

6.4 The Proponent shall monitor habitat restoration to verify the success of revegetation efforts. Monitoring starts with construction and ends once habitat has been restored and proven effective.

6.5 The Proponent shall restore access to the Project Site for the Aboriginal groups during the decommissioning phase, to the extent that such access is safe, for their traditional purposes.

6.6 The proponent shall consult with the Aboriginal groups on the implementation of conditions 6.1, 6.4 and 6.5.

7. Aboriginal archaeological, heritage and cultural resources

The following conditions are pursuant to subsection 53(1) of CEAA 2012:

7.1 The Proponent shall, for all phases of the Designated Project:

7.1.1 avoid known culturally significant sites;

7.1.2 assess additional culturally significant sites, if discovered;

7.1.3 establish a procedure for Aboriginal groups to safely access the Project Site for cultural and ceremonial purposes;

7.1.4 preserve any discovered burial sites;

7.1.5 salvage and preserve any artifacts that cannot be maintained in-situ; and

7.1.6 transfer artifacts in condition 7.1.5 to a facility identified by Aboriginal groups, in consultation with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

7.2 The proponent shall consult with the Aboriginal groups on the implementation of condition 7.1.

8. Subsection 5(2) effects related to components of the Designated Project that may be associated with federal authorizations

The following conditions are pursuant to subsection 53(2) of CEAA 2012:

8.1 The proponent shall, in implementing condition 3.7, take measures to avoid or lessen adverse effects:

8.1.1 on migratory birds and their habitats;

8.1.2 on terrestrial species, including amphibians and reptiles, and their habitats;

8.1.3 on species at risk and their habitats;

8.1.4 on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal peoples;

8.1.5 on sites of cultural significance to Aboriginal peoples; and

8.1.6 from potential sources of contamination (e.g. mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead).

8.2 The Proponent shall, in implementing condition 6.3, take into consideration the habitat needs of species at risk consistent with final recovery strategies or action plans, or alternatively, rely on best available information where recovery plans or action plans for the species are not yet completed for the species at risk.

8.3 The Proponent shall provide about 1400 hectares of private land as habitat for Eastern Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferous) and Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus).

8.4 The Proponent shall monitor the effectiveness of the habitat in condition 8.3.

8.5 The Proponent shall:

8.5.1 maintain a fence around the tailings management area to prevent access by wildlife; and

8.5.2 implement measures to prevent Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentine) from entering the following components of the Designated Project:

8.5.2.1 tailings management area;

8.5.2.2 water management pond;

8.5.2.3 water discharge pond;

8.5.2.4 constructed wetland;

8.5.2.5 overburden pile;

8.5.2.6 west mine rock pile; and

8.5.2.7 sediment ponds 1 & 2.

9. Accidents or Malfunctions

9.1 In the event of an accident or malfunction with the potential to cause adverse environmental effects, the Proponent shall:

9.1.1 notify the Agency and other relevant regulatory agencies of the occurrence as soon as possible;

9.1.2 implement measures to minimize any adverse environmental effects associated with the occurrence as soon as possible; and

9.1.3 submit a written report to the Agency as soon as possible in the circumstances, but at the latest 30 days after the day on which the accident or malfunction took place; the written report must include:

9.1.3.1 the measures that were taken to mitigate the effects of the occurrence;

9.1.3.2 if an emergency response plan was implemented, details concerning its implementation; and

9.1.3.3 changes made to avoid a subsequent occurrence of the accident or malfunction.

10. Implementation schedule

10.1 The Proponent shall submit an implementation schedule for conditions contained within this Decision Statement to the Agency, or anyone designated pursuant to s. 89 of CEAA 2012, 15 days prior to construction.

10.2 The Proponent shall submit an update to this implementation schedule in writing to the Agency, or anyone designated pursuant to s. 89 of CEAA 2012, every two years on March 31, starting the year following the date of the initial submission of the implementation schedule until completion of the activities.

10.3 The Proponent shall provide the Agency, or anyone designated pursuant to s. 89 of CEAA 2012, with notice of any implementation schedule changes from the initial schedule or any subsequent updates 30 days prior to the implementation of the change.

11. Record Keeping

11.1 The Proponent shall record, retain and make available to the Agency, or anyone designated pursuant to s. 89 of CEAA 2012, upon demand, at a facility close to the Designated Project area (local facility), information related to the implementation of the conditions of this Decision Statement and the results of all monitoring, including:

11.1.1 the place, date and time of any sampling;

11.1.2 the dates and the analyses that were performed;

11.1.3 the analytical techniques, methods or procedures used in the analyses;

11.1.4 the names of the persons who collected and analyzed each sample and documentation of any professional certifications relevant to the work performed that they might possess; and

11.1.5 the results of the analyses.

11.2 The proponent shall retain and make available upon demand to the Agency, or anyone designated pursuant to s. 89 of CEAA 2012, the information contained in condition 11.1 for a minimum of twenty-five years or until decommission ends, whichever is longer, unless otherwise specified, at a facility close to the Designated Project area (or at a location within Canada and agreed upon by the Agency, should the local facility no longer be maintained).

Issuance

This Decision Statement is issued on January 12, 2015 at Ottawa, Ontario by:

[Leona Aglukkaq]

_____________________________
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of the Environment

Date modified: