Resumption of Review for Marathon Palladium Project - Comments on draft Amended Joint Review Panel Agreement and Terms of Reference

Reference Number
707
Date Submitted
2020-10-25 3:10:46 PM
Text

Northwatch has a significant concern that the approach being adopted by the Agency to the restart of this review is one of shortcuts, which will shortchange the review process. The Agency appears to have already taken two decisions which signal this approach:

  • Allowing the not-yet-appointed Joint Review Panel a significantly shorter review period than the previous Joint Review Panel, despite the review being of a project which can be reasonably expected of at least equivalent complexity and potential for environmental harm
  • Accepting an “addendum” to the “original EIS” rather than requiring the proponent to submit a revised EIS and a revised set of supporting documents.

The areas of concern will be discussed later in our comments on the draft documents but are noted here as to significant decisions that appear to have been already made, and which – if not reversed – may prove fatal to the integrity and effectiveness of this review, and of the review’s ability to gain public confidence in either its conduct or outcomes.

In addition to the two above noted concerns, we offer the following general comments:

  • A fifteen day comment period on the draft Amended Joint Review Panel Agreement and Terms of Reference for the Environmental Assessment and the associated Terms of Reference for the Joint Review Panel is inadequate; this is particularly the case for this review, has been re-started after a near-seven year hiatus
  • As was also the case in 2011, the process set out in the draft documents does not have the same degree of rigour as is found in hearing processes conducted under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act; given that this is to be a Joint Review between Ontario and Canada, the process must provide at least an equivalent level of rigour
  • As was also the case in 2011, in a number of areas the process set out in the draft documents lack an appropriate level of transparency, or at least the draft documents fail to provide the level of detailed direction required to ensure that the resulting process will be transparent and open, including and particularly for public participants
  • As was also the case in 2011, the timelines are insufficiently defined and / or inadequate and as such are not supportive of a full and fair public review of the Project

Please see our comments attached in PDF format for more details of our review of the draft amended Joint Review Panel Agreement and Terms of Reference.

Two additional significant factors which should be considered by the Agency as they reconsider the draft joint agreement, panel terms of reference, and the review timeline more generally:

  • Generation Mining Inc is a junior mining company with no known track record in bringing a project of this size and complexity on line (in fact, a brief review found no evidence of this company having a track record of any kind); comparatively, Stillwater was a large and established mining company, and it was unable to bring this project into production, or even to complete the environmental assessment review process. The Agency should carefully consider whether this project is sufficiently developed to commence the assessment project, or whether the combination of an immature project and an inexperience proponent will result in another truncated process, which will be at the expense of Agency resources, the time and effort of public and Indigenous participants, and public confidence
  • Like Stillwater before it, Generation Mining Inc is seeking to embark upon the project review prior to even having completed a project feasibility study; As the Agency may recall, in January 2014 Northwatch et al wrote the Joint Review Panel expressing concerns about the timeline for the review, particularly in relationship to the proponents development timeline and the fact that they were simultaneously engaging in the CEAA review and undertaking a feasibility study, subsequent to the letter from Northwatch et al, the Panel made inquiries of the proponent, whose response was ultimately to request that the review be suspended.

Northwatch respectfully requests that the Agency not appoint the Joint Review Panel, thereby signaling the start of the review and the turning on of the review clock, until such time as Generation Mining Inc has completed the feasibility study and has confirmed to the Agency that the feasibility study has demonstrated that the project is viable. The Agency must not allow a proponent to cause the commencement of a review process for the purpose of increasing investor interest or for any other purpose than a full examination of the project, its purpose, alternatives and alternative means of being carried out, including potential environmental and/or social impacts.

Please see our comments attached in PDF format for more details of our review of the draft amended Joint Review Panel Agreement and Terms of Reference.

 

 

Submitted by
Northwatch Org
Phase
N/A
Public Notice
Public Notice - Marathon Palladium Project - Public comments invited on the draft Amended Joint Review Panel Agreement and Terms of Reference
Attachment(s)
  • Northwatch_Marathon Mine_ draft Amended Joint Review Panel Agreement and Terms of Reference_25 October 2020.pdf (264605 KB)
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