Public comments on proposed Nova Scotia gold mine are overwhelmingly negative


Of the 117 comments recently submitted to the government about a proposed gold mine on the east coast of Nova Scotia, only one was unequivocal in favor of the project.

Almost all other commentators were adamantly opposed to Atlantic Gold’s Fifteen Mile Stream proposal, which would see a 400-acre surface mine developed in Liscomb Game Sanctuary, about 30 kilometers north of Sheet Harbor, NS. Scotland.

As part of a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment of the project, people were asked to respond to the company’s environmental impact assessment. Atlantic Gold’s 5,000-page document presents the company’s perspective on how the mine would affect the environment and how it proposes to mitigate those effects.

The only positive comment, from Nick MacGregor of MacGregors Industrial Group in New Glasgow, NS, notes that he is “strongly in favor” of the mine, citing its potential economic benefits.

“It is essential that there is a balance between supporting economic growth and ensuring environmental sustainability,” writes MacGregor.

“Without a healthy and active economy, especially in our rural areas, there are simply much less financial resources available to support environmental improvement projects such as renewable energy, water treatment, sanctuaries. wildlife and more. “

Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy gold mine in Moose River, Nova Scotia, is the only operating gold mine in the province. (Brett Ruskin / CBC)

The proposed mine is expected to operate for seven years and employ 200 people, according to the company.

No one from Atlantic Gold was made available for an interview on the comments last week.

But in an emailed statement, spokesperson Dustin O’Leary said: “We don’t necessarily think the level of concern raised is an indication of local support for or against the project, however, we look forward to provide answers to all questions presented as the approval process continues. “

The site would include open pits, stockpiles, material storage, crushing and concentrating facilities, water management and treatment infrastructure, mine haul roads and a management facility. residue.

Ore from the Fifteen Mile Stream mine would be crushed at the site, and the concentrate would then be trucked to the Atlantic Gold mine in Moose River, Nova Scotia, approximately 75 kilometers away, for further processing.

Environmental concerns

In the company’s environmental impact statement, Atlantic Gold concludes that the project will not cause significant adverse environmental effects once the mitigation measures are in place.

But many commentators dispute this.

Nova Scotians have written to share concerns about potential effects on biodiversity, wildlife, water, wetlands, species at risk and many other aspects of the environment.

“Don’t allow this gold mine to go ahead,” one person wrote.

“Gold mines are well known for generating highly toxic waste, which inevitably pollutes the watersheds, water sources, soil, flora and fauna of the region and incredibly disturbs the biosphere. At a time when we need to protect our natural environment, allowing such projects as this is contrary to this mandate. “

The Touquoy gold mine opened in 2017. (Raymond Plourde / Ecological Action Center)

“I am strongly opposed to this project,” wrote another person. “Nova Scotia has a finite amount of unspoiled wilderness and we are destroying it with projects like this. It’s not a permanent source of jobs and income, it’s temporary.”

A third person commented: “I live close to the proposed site, on Highway 7, and I can’t stand the idea of ​​this project coming to fruition. One of the reasons I moved home [Nova Scotia] was because of the natural and untapped beauty of this part of the province. If the gold mine is approved, Highway 7 will be a nightmare to experience and commute. “

Some have expressed concern about the company’s track record as it faces 32 environmental burdens related to operations at its Touquoy mine and the Fifteen Mile Stream site.

Others feared that the project, located where contamination from a historic mine persists to this day, would disrupt toxic materials and release them into the environment.

The proposed mine is located in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary, which is the habitat of the endangered mainland moose population. (CBC)

Many environmental groups have also weighed in, including the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association, salmon and bird groups, Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia, East Coast Environmental Law, the Ecology Action Center and the Sierra Club.

Some of the concerns raised by these groups include the possibility of a tailings dam failure, the impact of the company’s plan to move a creek, the effects of climate change from the ore by truck to Moose River and the impact of the project on the endangered mainland moose, which lives in the region.

The Maritime Indigenous Peoples Council and the Kwilmu’kw Maw-Klusuaqn Negotiating Office wrote detailed critiques of the company’s analysis, both concluding that the project would affect Mi’kmaq access to land and land. resources.

Government comments

A handful of government departments also provided comments, including Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Several noted gaps in the information provided by the company, including its studies and analyzes.

Health Canada, for example, noted that the company may have underestimated the potential health risks of the project to the quality of food, air, drinking water and drinking water. for recreational purposes.

Natural Resources Canada asked about the adequacy of the proposed mitigation measures related to arsenic and acidifying rocks. Fisheries and Oceans Canada requested more information on the impact of the project on fish and fish habitat.

An earlier version of the company’s environmental impact statement did not meet federal requirements, and the government suspended its assessment of the project until it was resubmitted.

Atlantic Gold says it will commission the necessary studies to answer the questions that have been received. The company intends to submit these responses later this year.

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