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The Government of Canada approves the Akasaba West Copper-Gold Mine Project and takes steps to protect Val-d'Or caribou

June 27, 2018 — Ottawa — The Government of Canada is working to protect the environment and species at risk while supporting natural resource development that creates jobs and economic opportunities for the middle class.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced Cabinet's decision to approve the Akasaba West Copper-Gold Mining Project, following a federal environmental assessment. The project, proposed by Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, will be to construct, operate and decommission an open-pit copper and gold mine, located 15 kilometres east of Val-d'Or, Quebec. This project, when it is operational, is projected to create approximately 100 direct jobs, according to the proponent.

In her Decision Statement on the Akasaba West Copper-Gold Mining Project, the Minister found the project is not likely to directly cause significant adverse environmental effects, because of the relatively small size and short operational life of the project. However the Minister found that, in conjunction with other natural resource development in the area, the project could contribute to significant adverse cumulative effects on the ability of Indigenous People to carry out traditional activities, such as hunting and gathering, in the area.

The Minister's Decision Statement establishes more than 100 conditions to protect the environment, including mitigation measures and follow-up program requirements that Agnico Eagle Mines Limited must fulfill. The proponent will also be required to consult with affected First Nations on the implementation of the conditions, which include measures to protect human health, fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, and the use of lands and resources by Indigenous Peoples, including the woodland caribou herd of Val-d'Or whose numbers have declined significantly in recent years.

In particular, to address the potential effects of the project on the Val-d'Or caribou herd, the proponent will undertake progressive reclamation of the project's roads to reduce habitat disturbance, manage noise and light to limit disturbance to caribou, and conserve and restore four times the amount of caribou habitat as will be disturbed by the mine.

At the same time, the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec have formally committed to work together on additional measures to protect the Val-d'Or herd and other boreal caribou populations in Quebec. Discussions will continue to develop those measures in the weeks ahead.

The Government of Canada is also working collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples to protect the Val-d'Or boreal caribou herd and conserve critical habitat. The federal government is investing $1.26 million over five years to support research and conservation efforts led by the Lac Simon, Kitcisakik and Long Point First Nations to protect and sustain the herd. Those efforts, supported through a conservation commitment by the Government of Canada and the three First Nations, include measures such as habitat restoration and management, population monitoring, predator control, ongoing research and awareness-raising activities.

The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. As outlined in the Government's interim approach and principles on environmental assessments, the Government has committed that Indigenous Peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated.

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, First Nations, and expert federal departments including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, and Natural Resources Canada.

Following this decision, the proponent will need to obtain additional provincial and local government authorizations or permits. The Agency will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Minister's legally-binding conditions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

Quote

"The economy and the environment go together. Natural resource development is creating middle-class jobs and important economic opportunities for communities across Canada, and we are committed to ensuring projects can go forward in a way that protects nature and wildlife. Our government approved this project after a thorough environmental assessment based on rigorous science, expertise from federal departments and extensive consultations with the public and First Nations, and based on strict conditions to protect the land, water, wildlife and Indigenous rights. We are also working closely with Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Quebec to protect the iconic boreal caribou and their critical habitat."

— The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Key Facts

  • The Akasaba West Copper-Gold Mining Project, proposed by Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, will be to construct, operate and decommission an open-pit copper and gold mine with an ore production capacity of 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes per day for up to six years.
  • Agnico Eagle Mines Limited indicates that the project will create approximately 100 direct operating jobs and serve to maintain jobs at an existing ore processing facility.
  • The Environmental Assessment Decision Statement establishes a total of 101 legally-binding conditions, grouped under 58 main conditions, to mitigate the effects of the project on the environment.
  • The protection and conservation of species at risk in Canada is primarily the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments.
  • Just 18 individuals remain in the Val-d'Or caribou herd, which is considered at risk of local extinction without significant efforts to promote their protection and sustainability.

Associated Links

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Contacts

Caroline Thériault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
613-462-5473

Marissa Harfouche
Communications Advisor
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
613-219-2789
Marissa.Harfouche@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

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