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Federal assessment starts for proposed Timmins nickel mine development

Impact Assessment Agency opens one-month public commenting window on Crawford nickel project
Canada Nickel Crawford Project aerial 1
(Canada Nickel photo)

A federal assessment has kicked off of Canada Nickel Company’s proposed open-pit mine development, north of Timmins.

The Toronto mine developer announced Aug. 8 that the process for its Crawford nickel project has been initiated by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. The company filed the necessary documents to the regulator back in May. The files contain an initial project description.

The federal Impact Assessment permitting process is part of a new wave of government reviews of major industrial projects introduced by Ottawa in 2019. It goes beyond environmental assessments by incorporating public feedback, particularly from Indigenous people, on the wider impacts of an operation in a given region and how a company plans to address any issues raised.

Canada Nickel’s project description for Crawford contains information such as a record of its engagement with nearby stakeholders, including Indigenous people. It describes how the proposed mine will be developed, operated and eventually closed; where it’s situated in proximity to nearby communities; the area's physical and biological environmental features; and the overall potential impacts of a mine to the environment and people.

The Crawford nickel and cobalt sulphide project is 40 kilometres north of Timmins.

In its submission, the company indicates mining on the property would last for 31 years with milling continuing for 10 years after, for a total project life of 41 years. The proposed mine would produce nickel, cobalt and iron.

The company is billing this project as a low-carbon emitting operation.

So far, Canada Nickel said it held more than 20 meetings with Indigenous communities, project stakeholders, and the general public and gathered “crucial feedback” which was fed into the document.

The Impact Assessment Agency has posted the company’s document and other relevant information to its website to gather more public feedback. It signals the start of a one-month commenting period, expiring on Sept. 7.

The agency will do its own due diligence to write up its own “summary of issues” to be presented to the mining company, which then present a “response to the summary of issues” and a more detailed project description to file with the agency.

The company did not provide any information in its news release as to how long this federal assessment process will take.

In a statement, Canada Nickel CEO Mark Selby thanked those who helped provide feedback on the initial design and development of the project.

"The relationships we have built since the earliest days of the project have been crucial in facilitating these conversations, and by continuing to collect, reflect upon, and integrate the comments, concerns, questions, and suggestions we receive, Canada Nickel hopes to build a project that maximizes benefits to all communities in the region."

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