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From the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to Prodigy Gold Incorporated re: Information Requests Related to the Environmental Impact Statement Round 2

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Ontario Region
55 York Street, Suite 600
Toronto, ON  M5J 1R7

Agence canadienne d'évaluation environnementale
Région de l'Ontario
55, rue York, bureau 600
Toronto, ON  M5J 1R7

May 3, 2018

Mr. Kyle Stanfield
Director, Environment & Community Relations Prodigy Gold - Magino Project
Box 209, 3 Dree Road
Dubreuilville, ON
P0S 1B0
Kyle.Stanfield@argonautgold.com

Sent by E-mail

Dear Mr. Stanfield,

SUBJECT: Outcome of the Technical Review of the response to Information Requirement #1 of the Magino Gold Project Environmental Impact Statement

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) has completed the technical review of the response to Information Requirement #1 of the Magino Gold Project (the Project) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) documentation from Prodigy Gold Inc. (Prodigy) and determined that the information provided is insufficient for the purpose of moving forward with the environmental assessment (EA).

To facilitate moving forward with the EA, the Agency has prepared information requirements (IRs), contained in this letter and the attached Annex, in consultation with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Health Canada. The Agency has also taken into consideration comments and questions received from Indigenous groups.

The attached IRs are categorized and sorted by their links to environmental effects that are to be taken into account under section 5 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012), factors to be considered under section 19 of CEAA 2012, and potential adverse impacts of the project on potential or established Aboriginal and treaty rights protected by Section 35 of the Constitution Act of Canada, 1982.

This letter and Annex 1 collectively form the second Information Requirement (IR-2) and are developed based on technical questions arising from the review of Prodigy's response to IR-1. In accordance with subsection 23(2) of CEAA 2012, the Agency requires that Prodigy submit complete responses to the requirements contained in IR-2.

Registry provisions

In accordance with CEAA 2012, comments received and other documents submitted or generated to inform the EA are part of the project file. Accordingly, information submitted to the Agency that is relevant to the EA of the project is available to the public upon request and may also be posted on the online public registry under reference number 80044. The Agency will remove information, such as home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and signatures prior to public disclosure. Should you provide any documents that contain confidential or sensitive information that you believe should not be made public, please contact me directly.

Next Steps

The timeline is stopped as of May 3, 2018 and will not recommence until the Agency reviews the formal submission of the response to the IR-2 and is satisfied that responses are sufficiently complete to proceed with the EA.

As per the Agency's " Operational Policy Statement: Information Requests and Timelines, February 2016 " (https://www.canada.ca/en/environmental-assessment-agency/news/media-room/media-room-2016/information-requests-timelines.html) the Agency will take up to a maximum of 15 days to complete the conformity review of Prodigy's response to IR-2 without the timeline for the EA resuming. If the Agency has not come to a conclusion after 15 days, the timeline will resume.

The Agency is willing to meet with Prodigy to discuss the path forward and schedule meetings on specific EA thematic areas with all government reviewers, Prodigy and their consultants to clarify expectations for the IR responses.

If you have any further questions, please contact me directly at 437-999-9046 or Magino@ceaa-acee.gc.ca.

Sincerely,

<Original signed by>

Ian Martin
Project Manager

Attachments:

Annex 1 – Second Round of Information Requirements for the Magino Gold Project Environmental Impact Statement (IR-2)

ANNEX 1: Second Round of Information Requirements for the Magino Gold Project Environmental Impact Statement (IR-2)

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD1
IR-1 #: IE(1)-01
IR-2 #: IE(02)-01
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.1.8.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.7.5.2.1.1; Chapter 4.

Context and Rationale:

Chapter 4 of the EIS and Appendix 1: Traditional Uses in the PSA, LSA and RSA & Concordance Tables from Prodigy's IE(1)-07 response shows current or historical land use in the PSA, LSA, and RSA. For example, with regards to land use in the PSA, Appendix 1 summarizes: "MCFN has reported one large animal kill site"; MNO has "non-site specific hunting (upland gamebird, large game, and small game harvesting) identified in the Project area (PSA, LSA, RSA), and; MNO has non site-specific non-commercial fishing identified generally in the PSA and beyond. Appendix 1 also summarizes resource values, such as the Northern Pike and Walleye identified by MCFN in the PSA. Identification of resource values could indicate other land uses in the area.

Despite these and other examples found in Chapter 4 and Appendix 1, the response to IE(1)-01 states "There are no known receptors related to current uses/ activities related to Aboriginal Socio-Economic Conditions, Aboriginal Traditional Use of Lands and Resources, or Aboriginal Cultural Activities and Special Places in the vicinity of the Project (PSA or LSA)." This conflicts with the baseline information in Chapter 4 and summarized in Appendix 1. It also conflicts with Chapter 7, Section 7.7.5.2.1.1 of the EIS, which states "in summary, several groups reported that the PSA and LSA are used / were likely used currently or historically for hunting activities (MFN, MCFN, MNO, and BFN), or that the PSA and LSA include areas of wildlife habitat. The TKS/TLUS and other reports in most cases did not distinguish between historical or current uses."

The Agency relates receptors to "current" and potential "future" use of lands and resources. If historical use is identified, that would indicate potential future use. The receptors identified in Chapter 4 of the EIS and summarized in Appendix 1: Traditional Uses in the PSA, LSA and RSA should therefore be incorporated into the assessment of effects on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes and Aboriginal physical and cultural heritage.

If there is uncertainty regarding historical or current uses, or if land and resource use is not site or species-specific, clarification should be sought through engagement. If an assumption is made where there is uncertainty about the presence of a receptor, rationale should be provided for that assumption.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Include the receptors identified in the PSA and LSA for current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes in your effects assessments. These should include receptors for land use identified as "current", and areas where potential future use has been identified;
  2. If excluding any receptors, provide a rationale for their exclusion;
  3. Incorporate your response into IE(02)-03.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD3
IR-1 #: IE(1)-03
IR-2 #: IE(2)-03
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 5; Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.7.2.

Context and Rationale:

Chapter 7, Section 7.7.2.4.1 of the EIS states that "In some cases, the TKS/TLUS and other reports provided by Aboriginal groups to Prodigy did not specify whether various uses in the PSA, LSA or RSA were historic and/or current, or the relative importance of the activity at a specific location; this results in the assessment of potential effects being more conservative, in that if the actual use is not "current", there would likely be no potential effect from the Project." This approach to effects assessment is too narrow. A lack of clarity about whether or not use is current, or the importance of a certain activity, does not preclude an assessment of potential effects. Furthermore, the Agency's Technical Guidance for Assessing the Current Use of Lands and Resources for Traditional Purposes states that "current use" includes ".uses that are likely to occur in a reasonably foreseeable future," and that "uses that may have ceased due to external factors should also be considered if they can reasonably be expected to resume once conditions change."

The response to this IR in Appendix C also states that "The LSA is already affected by historic and current mining activities. There are alternative locations, in the LSA, RSA and beyond that are used by Aboriginal groups.that can provide an alternative to traditional uses." It goes on to say that ".the project area has been industrialized for almost 100 years; for this reason, the TK/TLUS indicate that uses are now focused on other lands.' Part 2, Section 6.2.6 of the EIS Guidelines require that indirect effects such as avoidance of the area by Aboriginal peoples due to increased disturbance be considered. The statement that TK/TLUS indicate uses are now focused on other lands also does not preclude an assessment of potential effects, as land use was still indicated in the PSA, LSA, and RSA by several groups.

With regards to mitigation measures, the proponent quotes the EIS in its response (Appendix C): " Taking into consideration the design of the Project, the results of the effects analysis, and the mitigation measures that will be implemented for the Atmospheric Environment, Physical Environment, Biological Environment, Human Health Risk Assessment disciplines, the only specific mitigation measure identified with respect to Traditional Use of Lands and Resources is the formation of an Environmental Monitoring Committee." The same statement is repeated for Aboriginal Cultural Activities and Special Places. If mitigation related to Atmospheric Environment, Physical Environment, Biological Environment, Human Health Risk Assessment disciplines also applies to Section 5(1)(c) of CEAA 2012, they need to be individually specified instead of generally referring the reader to those sections. The Agency notes that mitigation of a biophysical effect does not necessarily mitigate an effect on the human environment. Furthermore, in contemplating mitigation of impacts to Indigenous peoples, keep in mind the quality of resources of interest to an Indigenous group, the accessibility of those resources as well as any changes that the Indigenous group may experience when accessing those resources due to the Project.

As current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes has been identified in the EIS Chapter 4, Section 4.6.5, and Appendix 1 of the IE(01)-07 response, the mitigation measures identified thus far need to be updated. Mitigation measures should address land and resource use that is current, and can reasonably be expected to occur in the future (given historical use). If the only mitigation measure specific to effects on traditional use of lands and resources is the formation of an Environmental Monitoring Committee, the Agency is unclear how specific effects would be mitigated. Furthermore, if potential impacts are to be accommodated through Community Benefits Agreements, details are needed about what specific effects those agreements are mitigating, and how. Indigenous groups must be given the opportunity to understand the specific mitigation measures that address each potential effect, and their feedback considered in the design of those mitigation measures.

In a letter dated August 22, 2017, RSMIN stated that they informed Prodigy about a "Citizen gathering site" in the LSA that they are working with Prodigy to mitigate effects on. Information is needed on the mitigation measure(s) being developed.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Update the assessment of the potential project-related effects on each of the receptors identified in Chapter 4 of the EIS and Appendix 1 of the IR(1)-07 response (including receptors identified in IE(02)-01). This assessment should consider potential effects on human health, socio-economic conditions, physical and cultural heritage, current use of land and resources for traditional purposes, and any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological, paleontological or architectural significance for Aboriginal peoples. Include consideration of the potential effects on quality of experience, prior to arriving at a conclusion;
  2. Clearly identify each mitigation measure that applies to each potential effect. Bring forward and identify relevant mitigation measures from other disciplines that may also apply. If a potential effect has no mitigation, provide rationale. If the potential effect is accommodated through an agreement, identify the aspect of the agreement that addresses the specific effect;
  3. Validate the effectiveness and/or acceptability of the mitigation measures with Indigenous groups. In your response, document how they were provided the opportunity to understand the nature of the effects and how the mitigation measures would address them. Include comments from Indigenous groups in your response;
  4. Incorporate results of this updated assessment into the human health risk assessment, where applicable;
  5. Link your response to IE(02)-B14.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD4
IR-1 #: IE(1)-04
IR-2 #: IE(2)-04
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 5.
Reference to EIS: N/A

Context and Rationale:

In light of a letter received by Garden River First Nation (GRFN) in April 2018 (see IE(02)-04), baseline information for GRFN needs to be corrected/updated.

Appendix 1 of the IR response states "GRFN [Garden River First Nation] has not identified any hunting, trapping, fishing, or gathering activities in the PSA, LSA or RSA." This is also reflected in Appendix C. As the proponent has had very limited discussions with GRFN, it is unclear if GRFN is in agreement with the boundaries of the PSA, LSA, or RSA, or if Prodigy fully understands GRFN's traditional land use. This is substantiated by a letter received by the Agency from GRFN in April 2018, where GRFN disagrees with the claim in the IE(01)-07 response that ".GRFN [has] no current traditional activities within the Project's PSA, LSA or RSA." The proponent also seems to rely on GRFN's May 2017 ‘Prodigy Gold Impact Report' submitted to the Agency, and GRFN's September 2017 comments to the Agency on the EIS as the basis for its analysis. The Agency notes that the proponent met in October 2017 with GRFN on its May 2017 submission. However, given the discrepancy described by GRFN in their April 2018 letter, the conclusions reached by the proponent with regards to GRFN cannot be accepted as accurate until the proponent addresses the discrepancy.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Update the baseline conditions for GRFN. If any baseline conditions do not change, provide information to support your assertion, and which addresses GRFN's assertion that there are traditional land uses in the PSA, LSA, or RSA;
  2. Conduct an assessment of effects of changes to the environment on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, physical and cultural heritage and any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological, paleontological or architectural significance by Aboriginal peoples for Garden River First Nation;
  3. Clearly identify each mitigation measure that applies to each potential effect. Bring forward and identify relevant mitigation measures from other disciplines that may also apply. If a potential effect has no mitigation, provide rationale;
  4. Validate the effectiveness and/or acceptability of the mitigation measures with GRFN. In your response, document how GRFN was provided the opportunity to understand the nature of the effects and how the mitigation measures would address them. Include comments from GRFN in your response;
  5. Incorporate results of this updated assessment into the human health risk assessment, where applicable.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD6
IR-1 #: IE(1)-06
IR-2 #: IE(02)-06
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 5.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.7; Chapter 16, Section 16.2.

Context and Rationale:

The Agency understands Aboriginal and treaty rights to not only have a physical component (i.e. the act of trapping, fishing, or hunting), but also cultural, social, and political components as well. A potential impact to the practicing of a right can therefore be multi-faceted, and not necessarily limited to the ability/inability to carry out an activity.

The proponent states in its response (Appendix C, P. 94) that its rights assessment framework considers a potential impact to an Aboriginal or Treaty right to be determined by the "presence of an impact to the exercise of the right that cannot be mitigated." The Agency still needs to know what this mitigation is, specifically. It also states on p. 92 that "a number of Environmental Management and Monitoring Plans will be undertaken to mitigate impacts on rights."

The Agency needs to understand how Prodigy has linked the potential impacts to Aboriginal and treaty rights to mitigation measures. The information in this IR response is too vague and does not clearly identify the potential impacts to rights and the mitigation measures intended to address those potential impacts. Establishment of an environmental Monitoring Committee is not sufficient.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

Clearly identify the Aboriginal and treaty rights that are potentially impacted for each Indigenous group, and clearly identify the mitigation measures intended to address those potential impacts. Demonstrate how these measures would effectively mitigate the potential impacts on Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-IN14
IR-1 #: IE(1)-B14
IR-2 #: IE(02)-B14
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 5.
Reference to EIS: EIS Chapter 7, Section 7.7.2.4.

Context and Rationale:

In its IR response (Appendix C), the proponent states that the removal of beaver lodges/furbearer habitat from the PSA was not explicitly brought forward for consideration in the assessment of effects on hunting partly because "the effect of the removal of beaver lodges/furbearer habitat from the PSA was determined to be not significant". The rationale for this conclusion was not provided.

Also, the proponent states with regards to bear hunting "only MNO specifically noted bear harvesting in the Project area, but did not specify where that activity occurs relative to the PSA, LSA or RSA." The proponent then concludes that removal of black bear foraging habitat would have a negligible effect on hunting, however it is not clear what this conclusion was based on.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide the rationale for the conclusion for why the removal of beaver lodges/furbearer habitat is deemed not to be significant within the context of impacts to current or potential trapping and hunting activities;
  2. Clarify how the removal of black bear foraging habitat would be mitigated and lead to the conclusion that this effect on hunting by MNO is negligible.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD10
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-02
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-02
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 2.2 and 6.2.2.
Reference to EIS: Draft EIS, Section 6.1.6 and Section 6.2.4.7.

Context and Rationale:

In Chapter 6, Sections 6.1.6 and 6.2.4.7 of the Draft EIS Report submitted to the Agency in October 2014, a large subsurface water pipe was proposed to be built beneath the Tailings Management Facility (TMF) and Mine Rock Management Facility (MRMF), whose purpose was to "convey non-contact water from detention basins DB5 and DB6 [.] to DB3". The response to FFH(1)-02 states that "engineered drainage pipes are proposed to be placed underneath the TMF and MRMF". It is unclear whether the large subsurface pipe is still part of the design or it is replaced with engineered drainage pipes.

In addition, pipes and sealants can eventually degrade and create a conduit for seepage with unknown consequences for downstream effects, or it may undermine the structural integrity of the TMF/WRMF.

Details regarding the large subsurface pipe or the engineered drainage pipes, including an assessment of changes to water quality from additional seepage due to degradation of pipes over time were not provided in the EIS or in the response to IR-1.

The Agency requires clarification of the proposed infrastructure underneath the TMF and MRMF along with sufficient details to assess the potential changes to water quality and potential adverse effects to fish and fish habitat.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Confirm whether the large subsurface pipe or engineered drainage pipes will be constructed (either or both);
  2. Provide an assessment of possible structural integrity issues due to the construction and degradation of pipes underneath the TMF and MRMF;
  3. Describe any changes in water quality that could result from degradation of pipes or sealing material over time;
  4. Provide the effects on fish and fish habitat due to possible water quality changes taking the response from Question C into consideration;
  5. Describe mitigation measures to prevent adverse effects on fish and fish habitat taking the responses from Questions C and D into consideration;
  6. Characterize residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD12
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-04
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-04
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 3.1, 3.2.2 and 3.2.3.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Sections 7.3.4.5.1.4, 7.3.4.9.1.2.

Context and Rationale:

Response to Question B of FFH(1)-04 states that "The above-referenced TSDs provide the detailed analyses that support the conclusion that a water treatment plant is not necessary. The TSDs also identify the risks and uncertainties, and describe how contingency water treatment would be implemented in the event any of the risks or uncertainties manifest themselves."

It is further stated in the response to Question C of the same IR that "the location of the contingency water treatment plant would be established during revision of the water treatment plan and treatment plant design in the event the contingency actions are invoked".

The Agency notes that it is unclear how feasible it is to construct and operate the treatment plant in a timely manner to avoid compromising the water quality in Otto lake and waterbodies downstream, potentially affecting fish and fish habitat.

The Agency was unable to find any details pertaining to the contingency water treatment measures that will be readily available in the event any risks or uncertainties manifest themselves.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Describe the feasibility of construction and operation of a contingency water treatment plant in a timely manner should the monitoring data show exceedances above the regulatory criteria;
  2. Describe what measures would be taken to ensure no adverse effects occur during the time prior to the treatment plant becoming operational.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD13
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-05
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-05
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Sections 3.1, 6.1.5, 6.2.2 and 6.2.3.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 4, Section 4.3.4.3.1; Chapter 7, Section 7.3.5.5.1.3; TSD 16, Section 4.1.2.1.2; TSD 16 Addendum, Figure 2.2 and Table 2.1; TSD 7, Section 6.3.1; Appendix 6, Table 3.

Context and Rationale:

The response to Question D of FFH(1)-05 states that "no effects on fish and fish habitat are anticipated". This is contradictory to the responses provided for Question F-G of the same IR, which state that "residual effects on fish and fish habitat will not be significant" and that "serious harm to fish and fish habitat will be addressed in an offsetting plan."

The Agency recognizes that a final detailed design will be developed during later stages of project development. However, it is important for the Agency to understand the potential effects on fish and fish habitat from the construction and operation of the water quality control pond (WQCP) outfall structure in Otto Lake.

Furthermore, the statement that "no effects on fish and fish habitat are anticipated" from placement of an outflow structure in Otto Lake appears unreasonable. Otto lake has a maximum depth of 3.2 m and will receive outflow at a "monthly average of approximately 4,320 m3/day and a maximum of 25,900 m3/day [.] during Years 2 to 12" (TSD 7, Section 6.3.1). Excessive flows from the outfall structure, potentially resulting in scouring in Otto Lake could impact fish and fish habitat.

The Agency also notes that the habitat accounting under the Fisheries Act provided in Appendix 6, Table 3 did not include losses in Otto Lake. If the construction of the water quality control pond outfall structure and/or the operation would cause a loss or alteration of fish habitat, these values should be included in habitat loss accounting.

In determining effects to fish and fish habitat in Otto Lake, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) advises using known lake bathymetry, habitat features, and fish assemblage described in Chapter 4, Section 4.3.4.3.1. DFO also recommends using pathways of effects diagrams available on DFO's website for this assessment: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pnw-ppe/pathways-sequences/index-eng.html.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide an assessment of potential effects to fish and fish habitat related to the construction of the water quality control pond outfall structure based on the anticipated outfall location, construction methods, and final footprint;
  2. Provide an assessment of potential effects to fish and fish habitat related to the operation of the water quality control pond outfall structure due to excessive flows and potential scouring of Otto Lake;
  3. Describe any additional mitigation measures to minimize the effects on fish and fish habitat from the construction and operation of the water quality control pond outfall structure in Otto Lake;
  4. Characterize the residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented. Predict the amount of fish habitat lost or altered in Otto lake due to the construction, as well as the operation, of the water quality control pond outfall structure and update the habitat loss accounting provided in Appendix 6, Table 3.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD14
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-06a
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-06a
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 3 and 6.2.3.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 4, Section 4.3.4.3.3, Chapter 6, Section 6.5.1.7; Chapter 7, Sections 7.3.2.3, 7.3.2.8, and Table 7-53.

Context and Rationale:

The response to FFH(1)-06a identifies a number of project activities for the construction of slurry wall between Goudreau Lake and the open pit. However, there is no qualitative and quantitative description of the dimensions and features between the area where construction of the slurry wall will occur and Goudreau Lake.

Chapter 4, Section 4.3.4.3.3 mentions that for Goudreau Lake, "vegetation growth is abundant on the north of the island and at the south west end of the lake. The diversity of water depth, vegetative cover, and substrate provide optimal habitat for a range of fish species".

An estimate of how much of this vegetation, specifically aquatic and riparian habitat, will be removed or altered due to the activities identified in the response to Question B of FFH(1)-06a is not provided.

The Agency requires this information to understand the effects on fish and fish habitat from removing or altering aquatic and riparian habitat and vegetation around Goudreau Lake.

DFO recommends using pathways of effects diagrams available on DFO's website to provide an assessment of effects on fish and fish habitat in Goudreau Lake from the above undertaking: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pnw-ppe/pathways-sequences/index-eng.html.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide a qualitative and quantitative description of the dimensions and features between the area where construction will occur and the edge of Goudreau Lake.;
  2. Predict the amount of aquatic and riparian habitat and vegetation that will be lost or altered due to the activities identified in the response to Question B of FFH(1)-06a;
  3. Provide the effects on fish and fish habitat due to loss or alteration of riparian habitat and vegetation at the edge of Goudreau Lake;
  4. Describe mitigation measures to prevent adverse effects on fish and fish habitat due to any changes identified in Question C;
  5. Characterize residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD28
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-17
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-17
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 3.1 and 6.2.2.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.3.2 and 7.3.3; Addendum to TSD 16, Section 2.1.3.

Context and Rationale:

Based on the response to Question A of FFH(1)-17, it appears that the predicted pit lake water quality does not factor in seepage that would flow directly into the pit lake from the TMF and MRMF throughout the life of the project. The response to FFH(1)-35 E indicates that 15% of overall seepage will flow directly to the pit lake. Although direct seepage is described as being "a much smaller volume than the TMF water from the pool and seepage transferred to the pit at closure", a relative comparison for volume of seepage has not been provided and therefore, this conclusion cannot be verified.

Furthermore, the response to Question F of FFH(1)-17 states that "If monitoring indicates that it is not beneficial to connect the pit lake with Goudreau, no channel will be constructed".

The Agency understands that one of the reasons for connecting the pit lake to Goudreau Lake was to ensure that the pit lake does not indiscriminately overflow into surrounding waterbodies. Should it be determined that it is not beneficial to connect the pit lake to Goudreau Lake with a constructed channel, it is unclear what measures will be in place to ensure water from the pit lake does not indiscriminately overflow into Goudreau Lake or other surrounding waterbodies.

This is important for the Agency to understand how excess water flow from the pit lake would be managed as the pit water quality could cause detrimental effects on fish and fish habitat in adjacent water bodies.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide the volume of seepage that will flow directly into the pit lake from the TMF and MRMF for all phases of the project and provide a comparison of that volume against the volume of TMF pool water and water collected from the seepage collection system;
  2. Include the seepage that will flow directly into the pit lake from TMF and MRMF in the assessment of pit lake water quality for all phases of the project. If this is not feasible or necessary, provide a rationale;
  3. Describe the measures that will be put in place to ensure the water in pit lake does not overflow into the surrounding waterbodies, in the event that monitoring data is not supportive of connecting pit lake to Goudreau Lake;
  4. Describe the measures that will be put in place to restrict access for both humans and animals (specifically migratory birds and species of interest to Indigenous groups) in the event that monitoring data is not supportive of connecting the pit lake to Goudreau Lake.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD48
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-36
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-36a
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.2.
Reference to EIS: TSD 4, Sections 6.2.3, 6.3.3 and Figures 6-8 and 6-9; Chapter 7, Section 7.3.4.5.1.3 and 7.3.2.7.

Context and Rationale:

The response to Question B of FFH(1)-36 states that "approximately 70% of the seepage from the TMF is captured by the toe drain seepage collection system . . Of the 30% that bypasses the toe drain seepage collection system; approximately half is drawn toward the pit and collected in the pit water management systems. The remaining flow will eventually report to surface water bodies in the vicinity of the mine, but the flow is negligible compared to the surface water flux and the groundwater discharge is diffuse (as opposed to concentrated). Therefore, surface water quality is not expected to become impaired".

The Agency has uncertainties with the above analysis as there is not enough evidence provided in the EIS to substantiate the claim that uncaptured seepage leading into surface water features will not impair surface water quality. TSD 4, Section 6.3.3 states that the seepage by-pass is predicted to be "a maximum of about 2,540 m3/d at end of Year 12" of operations. It is further stated in the same section that "this seepage by-pass (approximately 50-60%) is captured by the drawdown cone of the open pit and hence would be collected by pit dewatering". The Agency notes that even after 50-60% of seepage by-pass captured by the open pit, there is a substantial amount of seepage leading into the natural environment. Chapter 7, Section 7.3.4.5.1.3 states that "changes to surface water quality from seepage [.] from the TMF and MRMF will be minor" even though a specific assessment to derive that conclusion has not been conducted or reported in the EIS.

Furthermore, it is stated in Chapter 7, Section 7.3.2.7 that "The effects from the TMF and MRMF will occur during operations phase, and will continue into the post-closure phase". The same section of the EIS also states that filling of the open pit would take "about 50 years after cessation of mining". The Agency notes that as the open pit fills, it is plausible that the drawdown cone of the open pit pulling seepage from the TMF/MRMF will have a lesser effect on seepage and a higher percentage of seepage can lead towards waterbodies in the vicinity of the TMF/MRMF. The Agency understands that "as groundwater migrates, concentrations will attenuate through geochemical reactions and mixing with native groundwater, and eventually with distance, the effects will not be measurable" (Chapter 7, Section 7.3.2.7). However, it is unclear whether attenuation and mixing of groundwater will be enough to prevent adverse changes in surface water quality. No evidence was found in the EIS to substantiate the claim that "the effects will not be measurable".

The Agency also notes in the response to FFH(1)-35 that "seepage collection wells" are included in the TMF/MRMF pre-detailed design as contingency measures. Knowing that approximately 15% of uncaptured seepage from the TMF/MRMF, it is unclear why these seepage collection or pump back wells are considered a contingency measure rather than a mitigation measure. The Agency also has several uncertainties with the seepage quantity predictions made in the EIS (see FFH(2)-36b and FFH(2)-36c). These uncertainties with seepage modeling can be reduced by proposing additional mitigation measures, such as establishing seepage collection or pump back wells around the TMF and MRMF.

The transient particle tracking of TMF and MRMF seepage by-pass provided in TSD 4, Figures 6-8 and 6-9 shows seepage leading into Spring Lake, McVeigh Creek, Otto Lake and Unnamed Waterbody 9. Changes in water quality due to seepage that is not captured by the seepage collection system or the open pit are important for the Agency to understand the effects on fish and fish habitat.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide an assessment to surface water quality changes during operation in the waterbodies in the vicinity of the TMF and MRMF (including but not limited to Spring Lake, McVeigh Creek, Otto Lake and Unnamed Waterbody 9) from seepage not captured by the seepage collection system and the open pit drawdown cone.
  2. Revise the predicted seepage leading into the surrounding surface water features based on changes in the drawdown cone of the open pit as it fills after cessation of mining. Incorporate these results into an assessment to surface water quality changes in nearby waterbodies during post-closure;
  3. Provide the effects on fish and fish habitat, if applicable, due to changes in surface water quality;
  4. Describe any additional mitigation measures that would prevent adverse effects on fish and fish habitat due to any changes in surface water quality. Include these measures in any assessment provided in response to FFH(2)-36c, part A;
  5. Characterize residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;
  6. Reassess the significance determination for fish and fish habitat, if necessary, taking responses from Questions A to E into account;
  7. Describe the follow-up program for potential effects to fish and fish habitat, including objectives and any monitoring measures that will be implemented to verify the predictions of effects and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures. If follow-up is not required, provide a rationale.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD25, CEAA-FD48
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-14, FFH(1)-36
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-36b
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.1.4.
Reference to EIS: TSD 4, Figures 2-3 and 3-4.

Context and Rationale:

As noted in FFH(1)-14, the overburden aquifer is important in controlling groundwater flow. The response to FFH(1)-14 refers to TSD 4, Figures 2-3 and 3-4 to provide the spatial extent for the overburden in the project area. However, the thickness of the overburden and the locations where field measurements were taken was not provided.

Overburden depth affects the behavior of seepage and could impact the effectiveness of the seepage collection system. The information provided in the EIS and the response to IR-1 lacks sufficient detail on the overburden depth, sampling locations and overburden characterization to allow the Agency to understand the efficacy of seepage collection system proposed for the Project.

This information is required to reduce the uncertainty related to the efficacy of the seepage collection system and to understand the changes to water quality and potential effects to fish and fish habitat.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide a figure, such as an isopach map, that shows the thickness of the overburden. Include in the figure overburden sampling locations and overburden characterization. If the figure cannot be provided, provide a rationale;
  2. Assess the efficacy of seepage collection system proposed for the Project, taking into account the depths of the overburden requested in Question A.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD23, CEAA-FD48
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-12, FFH(1)-36
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-36c
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.2
Reference to EIS: TSD 4, Table 2-1; Sections 4.2.2, 6.2.3, 6.2.4, 6.3.2 and 6.4; TSD 1, Figure 6-4.

Context and Rationale:

The response to FFH(1)-12 shows that only four measurements of hydraulic conductivity (K) were taken for the depth of 0-10 m, which is not considered statistically representative. Based on TSD 4, Table 2-1, and the response to FFH(1)-12, the distribution of K measurements is summarized as follows:

  • Overburden (3 types) n = unknown
  • Shallow Bedrock of 0-5 m: n = 0
  • Bedrock of depths 5-10 m: n = 4
  • Bedrock of depths 10-60 m: n = 74

It appears that the dataset of K values is biased to depths below the typically weathered and/or highly fractured shallow bedrock of 0-5 m of the Canadian Shield. It is stated in the executive summary of TSD 4 that "Sensitivity analyses indicates that variation of hydraulic conductivity is the parameter that affects the overall groundwater fluxes the most throughout the model area." Therefore, the lack of any measured K values in bedrock of 0-5 m creates uncertainty and could lead to substantial variation in the quantity of seepage leading towards surface water bodies.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  • A. Revise the inputs in the groundwater model by incorporating statistically reasonable set of K values from the 0-10m depth. If this is not feasible, provide an assessment of the ability for additional mitigation measures implemented at the start of operations, such as establishing the seepage collection or pump back wells around the TMF and MRMF, to reduce the level of uncertainty associated with seepage quantity predictions.. In your response, take FFH(2)-36a and FFH(2)-36b into consideration.
  • B. Update the water quality predictions taking response from Question A into consideration;
  • C. Provide the effects on fish and fish habitat, if applicable, due to changes in surface water quality;
  • D. Describe any additional mitigation measures that would prevent adverse effects on fish and fish habitat due to any changes identified in Question C;
  • F. Characterize residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;
  • G. Reassess the significance determination for fish and fish habitat, if necessary, taking responses from Questions A to F into account;
  • H. Describe the follow-up program for potential effects to fish and fish habitat, including objectives and any monitoring measures that will be implemented to verify the predictions of effects and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures. If follow-up is not required, provide a rationale.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD2(A1)-19
IR-1 #: IE(1)-27
IR-2 #: IE(2)-27
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 3.1, 6.1.5 and 6.1.6.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 6, Table 6-9, Chapter 7, Section 7.3.3.7.2.

Context and Rationale:

Chapter 7, Section 7.3.3.7.2 states that "dewatering discharge to Goudreau Lake (from Webb Lake) and Spring Lake (from Lovell Lake and the existing tailings and polishing ponds) may affect water level and lake outflows in Goudreau and Spring Lakes as well as the flow in McVeigh Creek."

Chapter 6, Table 6-9 shows a list of waterbodies that will have to be drained for development of the proposed Magino Mine. The response to IE(1)-27 states that "water drained from these waterbodies will be pumped to the [tailings management facility] TMF for use as process water in the mill". The Agency is unclear how this will be achieved as some of the waterbodies proposed to be drained are within the footprint of the proposed TMF.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Describe how water drained from the waterbodies within the TMF footprint will be managed during the period of time that the TMF is developed to sufficiently hold the water from all waterbodies. Include in your description the proposed work sequencing that will allow this undertaking.
  2. Assess the effects of changes to environment that would result from the removal of the waterbodies and any undertaking required to manage the water prior to discharge in the TMF. Describe mitigation measures, characterize residual effects, and provide a follow-up plan for any effects identified, as appropriate.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD21
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-10
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-10
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.1.2.
Reference to EIS: TSD 2, Sections 3.3.1 and 3.3.3.

Context and Rationale:

It is stated in TSD 2, Section 3.3.3: "Dissolved aluminum was detected consistently over time [.] It is suspected that the dissolved aluminum results are an artifact of the testing procedures (from the cell materials or from the sampling) or the laboratory". Section 3.3.1 of the same TSD states that "[.] nitrite results are a sampling or laboratory artifact". The response submitted to the Agency in January 2018 stated that these assumptions were made "based on the basic chemistry of these constituents and professional experience in working with environmental data".

The revised response to FFH(1)-10 submitted in March 2018 provided Appendices 3 and 4 for information on testing procedures and their possible influence on aluminum and nitrate levels. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) reviewed these documents and did not find any indication that the data is possibly of substandard quality.

As is the standard practice, NRCan assumes that the samples were filtrated and acidified. As a result, the samples should be representative of the site conditions. There is not enough evidence in the responses provided to conclude that these results are simply an artefact of the testing procedures or the laboratory.

NRCan notes that typically, aluminum's occurrence in natural waters is controlled by pH and by finely suspended mineral particles. However, increased concentrations of aluminum consistently found in data cannot be dismissed without consideration of how that may affect the water quality predictions for the surrounding waterbodies and effect fish and fish habitat.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Update the water quality assessment with the inclusion of elevated levels of aluminum and nitrite, or provide rationale/evidence for not doing so;
  2. Provide the potential effects on fish and fish habitat taking the response from Question A into consideration;
  3. Describe mitigation measures, if applicable, to prevent adverse effects on fish and fish habitat;
  4. Characterize residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;
  5. Reassess the significance determination for adverse effects on fish and fish habitat, if necessary, taking responses from Questions A to D into account;
  6. Describe the follow-up program for potential effects to fish and fish habitat, including objectives and any monitoring measures that will be implemented to verify the predictions of effects and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures. If follow-up is not required, provide a rationale.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD35
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-24
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-24a
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.2.
Reference to EIS: TSD 16 Addendum, Tables 3.2 – 3.5.

Context and Rationale:

The response to FFH(1)-24 does not adequately characterize the potential chronic effects on aquatic biota due to a two-to-three fold increase in hardness in Otto Lake.

The response identifies a link between hardness values and total dissolves solids (TDS) and states that TDS is a function of magnesium and calcium concentrations. A number of toxicity studies are referred to in the response to justify the predictions of the effects of hardness on aquatic biota in Otto Lake.

However, the Agency has a number of concerns with the use of the studies as justification:

  • The TDS lowest observable effect concentrations (LOECs) reported in the Brix et al., (2010) study were derived using effects observed in acute, rather than chronic, exposures. Similarly, the exposures in the cited Chapman et al., (2000) also evaluated acute, and not chronic, effects of increasing TDS associated with exposure to effluents.
  • The lowest hardness levels employed in the various experiments in the Brix et al., (2010) study (77, 100, and 124 mg CaCO3/L) were already 1.5 to 2.5 fold higher than the baseline hardness in Otto Lake (52 mg CaCO3/L), therefore the results of this study should not be used to illustrate the risk posed by an increase in hardness from the current Otto Lake level to the predicted average of 110 mg CaCO3/L or predicted max 175 mg CaCO3/L.
  • The LOECs of "1402 and 964 mg/L TDS based on salmonid testing" (Brix et al., 2010) cited in the response were not for fertilization success of exposed organisms, which range from 254 to >2800 mg TDS/L.
  • All effects levels discussed in the Brix study are for short term exposures. The predicted maximum TDS concentration in Otto Lake is 433.6 mg/L, which approaches the USEPA 500 mg/L TDS standard during salmonid spawning periods. As noted in Brix et al. (2010) "the 500 mg/L TDS standard during salmonid spawning periods should not be increased based on results from the fertilization study given the observed sensitivity of embryo water absorption to elevated TDS."

According to TSD 16 Addendum, Table 3.2 – 3.4, and Appendix L Table 1-25-1, hardness will increase from 52.1 mg CaCO3/L to 110-175 mg CaCO3/L (18.5 mg/L Ca to 54.7 mg/L Ca), under the various climate scenarios modeled during operations. Based on the potential increase in hardness as discharge to Otto Lake begins, it is likely that the ionic strength of Otto Lake will increase quickly and abruptly shift the water composition to adversely affect the resident biota.

To assist with the impact characterization due to alteration of water composition on aquatic life in the natural environment, the US EPA has released a draft method for developing water quality criteria for specific conductivity (SC), a measure of major ion contaminants (as opposed to individual ion concentrations or hardness). EPA chose SC as the exposure measurement for a number of reasons including that SC is simple and cost-effective (resulting in a massive data base of SC and corresponding real-world effects) and because effects are caused by the mixture of ions rather than a single ion. Over the past 10 years, the EPA has produced a large body of evidence (>10 published papers and (resident biota) data from >1000 sites) in 24 ecoregions with a range of background SC. These data can be used to predict the proportion of genera that will be lost from a waterbody when the ionic concentration increases above background or above an initial condition (Cormier et al., 2018a).

The Agency requires a revised assessment of effects to fish and fish habitat, as there is a large body of evidence that shows that sudden changes from a soft to a hard water environment can cause substantial changes in water composition (see FFH(2)-24b) and have adverse effects to the resident biota, such as loss of species.

References Cited:

Cormier, S.M., Zheng L., Flaherty C.M., [this issue] a. Data for: A field-based model of the relationship between extirpation of salt-intolerant benthic invertebrates and background conductivity. U.S. EPA Environmental Dataset Gateway (EDG).

Cormier, S.M., Zheng L., Flaherty C.M., [this issue] b. Data for: Field-based method for evaluating the annual maximum specific conductivity tolerated by freshwater invertebrates. U.S. EPA Environmental Dataset Gateway (EDG).

Griffith, M. B., Zheng, L. and Cormier, S. M. (2018), Using extirpation to evaluate ionic tolerance of freshwater fish. Environ Toxicol Chem, 37: 871–883.

U.S. EPA, 2016. Public Review Draft: Field-Based Methods for Developing Aquatic Life Criteria for Specific Conductivity. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington, DC. EPA-822-R-07-010. Available online at: https://www.epa.gov/wqc/draft-field-based-methods-developing-aquatic-life-criteria-specific-conductivity.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Reassess the potential effects on fish and fish habitat due to the predicted increase in water hardness in Otto Lake;
  2. Identify mitigation measures necessary to address the potential effects on fish and fish habitat;
  3. Characterize residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;
  4. Reassess the significance determination for fish and fish habitat, if necessary, taking responses from Questions A to C into account;
  5. Describe the follow-up program for potential effects to fish and fish habitat, including objectives and any monitoring measures that will be implemented to verify the predictions of effects and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures. If follow-up is not required, provide a rationale.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD36
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-22; FFH(1)-24; FFH(1)-25.
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-24b
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.2.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Sections 7.3.4.7 and 7.3.4.8, Tables 7-83 and 7-84; TSD 16 Addendum, Tables 3.2 – 3.5; IR-1 Response Appendix K and

Appendix L, Table 1-25-1.

Context and Rationale:

The values calculated for hardness (see FFH(2)-24a) are associated with several other parameters of concern. The response to FFH(1)-25 states that "In order to assess the implications of changing hardness over the course of mine operations, the ratio of [.] copper to hardness was plotted over the mine life." The effect of changes to water hardness on the toxicity of metals was examined in the assessment of effects to fish and fish habitat at Otto Lake. However, several issues were identified in the assessment.

Otto Lake can be considered a soft water lake as the measured background calcium concentration was 52 mg CaCO3/L (TSD 16 Addendum, Table 3.2-3.4). It is noted in the response to FFH(1)-22 that predicted concentration of copper in Otto Lake was recalculated due to an error in the original CORMIX modelling and a"[.] site specific Biotic Ligand Model was constructed to determine an acute toxicity value (Final acute value, FAV) [.] for copper".

While hardness itself is not a parameter that is input into the BLM, calcium, a component of hardness, is. The background (i.e. Year 1, Day 1) calcium in Otto Lake is 18.5 mg Ca/L (TSD 16 Addendum, Table 3.2). However, the predicted calcium concentration on Year 1, Month 10 of 54.7 mg Ca/L, which is 3 times higher than background concentration, was used to derive the revised guideline (Appendix L, Table 1-25-1). The conditions used to determine both the original and the revised BLM-derived copper guidelines are effluent-influenced; they are derived from values that are well above the stated background levels for some key ions. Therefore, these guidelines cannot be considered suitable for Otto Lake.

The Agency notes that no scientific basis or rationale is provided for the use of the BLM approach chosen to derive the FAV for copper in the effluent plume. Furthermore, the validity of the FAV threshold for copper is not substantiated by toxicity data from published sources. Published acute toxicity studies on fish and invertebrates indicate numerous cases where copper was toxic below the calculated FAV of 0.0295 mg/L.

The Agency requires this information to understand the effects to fish and fish habitat from copper, which is associated with hardness values.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide a scientific basis and rationale for using the chosen BLM approach to calculate the FAV for copper and substantiate the validity of the calculated FAV for protection of aquatic biota and fish using data from published sources;
  2. Revise the guideline for copper using a more conservative assumption for the degree of water hardness reflective of background conditions, as explained in the Context and Rationale column. In your response, take into consideration FFH(2)-24a;
  3. Taking responses from Questions A and B into consideration, update the assessment of changes to water quality and revise the assessment of effects to fish and fish habitat, including the significance determination;
  4. Identify any additional measures that may be required to mitigate potential effects to fish and fish habitat based on answers to Questions A – C.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD31
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-20
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-20
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5 (1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Sections 6.1.5 and 6.2.2.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Sections 7.3.5.5.1.3 and 7.3.5.8; Table 7-92 and Table 7-93; IR-1 response Appendix T.

Context and Rationale:

In Chapter 7, Table 7-93, the proponent has assigned a medium magnitude of effect for copper in sediments in Otto and Herman Lakes. This categorization is based on how the magnitude of effect levels were defined for low, medium and high effects in Table 7-92 of the same chapter.

However, the effects level definitions for magnitude of effect for sediment, particularly for copper (Cu) does not allow for the assignment of a high magnitude of effect, regardless of how much higher the predicted concentration becomes in the sediment.

In Otto Lake, the predicted increase in copper in sediment is 14 times its background level and 5 times higher than the Severe Effects Level (SEL). It would therefore be better categorized as a high effect, but the current definitions, as worded, cannot adequately characterize the potential magnitude of effect of this predicted increase in Cu.

Furthermore, it is stated in the response to Question D of FFH(1)-20 that "none of the available information suggests lakes in the LSA are used for swimming or wading, and therefore this (sediment) pathway was considered to be incomplete". The same response further states that "the number of uses in the PSA or LSA is few, their density is low, and there is often little or no commentary in the reports about the importance of the lands/resources in the PSA or LSA".

However, Appendix T of the IR-1 response submitted to the Agency in January 2018 states that Herman Lake, Otto Lake and Goudreau Lake "have been identified as having reasonable likelihood of use by Indigenous people/the public as an aqueous highway." It is possible that these users may come in contact with lake sediment (including suspended sediment, shoreline intertidal sediment and wetlands, beach sediment) during harvesting and recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, and beachcombing etc. As a result, the elimination of this pathway is not justified, particularly as sediments have been reported to have an increased concentration of copper in Otto Lake and Herman Lakes.

Therefore, an evaluation of exposure due to sediments on receptors via dermal contact, incidental ingestion, and inhalation is required in the human health risk assessment (HHRA), and the assessment of effects on the health of Indigenous peoples should be updated accordingly.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Revise the effects level definitions for the magnitude of effect for "Stream and Lake Sediments" in order to be able to appropriately characterize the magnitude of effect from the predicted increase in copper concentrations in Otto and Herman lake sediments;
  2. Revise the magnitude of "Stream and Lake Sediments" from medium to high for copper in sediments of Otto and Herman Lakes, or provide a rationale for why that would not be necessary;
  3. Include potential exposure pathways via dermal contact, incidental ingestion, and inhalation of sediments as Indigenous residents and recreational users may come into contact with lake sediment, suspended sediment, shoreline intertidal sediment, wetlands and beach sediment, etc.;
  4. Update the effects assessment on the health of Indigenous peoples taking the response from Question C into consideration;
  5. Provide mitigation measures to minimize the effect on the health of Indigenous peoples taking responses from Question C and D into account. If consequential effects occur to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, (from restricted or loss of access, for example) provide an assessment of the related effects and necessary mitigation;
  6. Provide residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented.
  7. Where necessary, reassess the significance determination for residual effects on human health (and current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes).

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD44
IR-1 #: FFH(1)-32
IR-2 #: FFH(2)-32
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(i) Fish and Fish Habitat; 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.1.6.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 4, Section 4.4.5.1.1; Section 4.3; TSD 15 Section 3.2.4.1 Desktop Analysis; IR-1 Response Appendix D; Chapter 7, Table 7-107.

Context and Rationale:

Chapter 7, Table 7-107 mentions that 30.3% of watercourse area in the LSA and 12.5% of watercourse area in the RSA will be removed due to the Project. The Agency notes that these percentages are the same as the percentages provided in the revised response to FFH(1)-32 for reduction in flows that extend to "Summit Lake and corresponds to a 30.3 and 12.5% loss of flow at the LSA and RSA boundaries, respectively". A reference to these percentages for flow changes at the LSA and RSA boundaries were not provided in the revised response to FFH(1)-32, however, the Agency understands that such loss of flow is possible due to the loss of headwater streams that would in part result in a loss of groundwater to this system. Groundwater upwellings support Brook trout spawning; however there is uncertainty whether brook trout are present beyond the LSA and within the RSA.

The response to FFH(1)-32 states that "Brook trout are not known to spawn within the LSA", but "[.]have been reported many kilometers (12) downstream of the site". Based on TSD 15, Figure 3-2, it is understood that fish sampling to identify the presence of brook trout was not conducted outside of the LSA. The response to FFH(1)-32 also states: "it is expected that brook trout have not been found upstream of Speight Lake due to the rail line, which crosses the creek in four places downstream of Spring Lake and a road that crosses the creek just downstream of Summit Lake. Rail lines often have blocked or hanging culverts, which prevent fish access upstream." However, this was not verified by field studies.

Further, it is not clear whether other sources of information were obtained from provincial fisheries managers, non-government organizations, or Indigenous communities to verify the presence or absence of brook trout (also referred to as speckled trout) in the LSA or RSA.

This information is important for the Agency to understand the potential effects on brook trout and their habitat from the changes caused by the Project.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Identify any linkage that exists between the percentages of area of watercourse removal in Chapter 7, Table 7-107 and the percentage of reduction in flows at the LSA and RSA boundaries;
  2. Clarify whether any fisheries studies were conducted downstream of McVeigh Creek and outside of the LSA boundary to identify the presence of brook trout, or to validate whether the rail line crossings are barriers to fish movement. If these studies were not conducted, provide further evidence (e.g. information from provincial fisheries managers, non-governmental organizations, or Indigenous knowledge) to support the conclusion that brook trout are absent from the area affected by the Project;
  3. If evidence from Question B cannot be provided, update the assessment of effects to fish and fish habitat from the loss of flow (30.3% at the LSA boundary and 12.5% at the RSA boundary) to include brook trout spawning habitat;
  4. Provide mitigation measures to minimize the effects on fish and fish habitat taking the response from Question C into account;
  5. Provide residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;
  6. Reassess the significance determination for fish and fish habitat, if necessary, taking responses from Questions A to E into account;
  7. Describe the follow-up program for potential effects to fish and fish habitat, including objectives and any monitoring measures that will be implemented to verify the predictions of effects and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures. If follow-up is not required, provide a rationale.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD2(A1)-11 (39.0)
IR-1 #: IE(1)-19
IR-2 #: IE(2)-19
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 1, Section 2.4; Part 2, Section 6.2.1; Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 9, Section 5.2 and Appendix 3.III; Section 6.5.3.6; Section 7.3.4.5.1.3.

Context and Rationale:

Prodigy's response to IE(1)-19 D focuses on compliance and enforcement, and does not provide either a quantitative basis for exclusion of wind erosion from tailings as a source of dust, or a substantive justification for exclusion of dust from wind erosion from the assessment of the potential effects on human health. As mentioned in the context to comment IE(1)-19, the rationale for exclusion of dust from wind erosion from the air quality assessment given in TSD 9, Appendix 3.III, Section 2.2 ("due to the moisture content and the size of the material being stockpiled (i.e., mine rock and ore prior to primary crushing), wind erosion emissions will not be significant"), is not sufficient, and it is not clarified in this response.

Prodigy's response to IE(1)-19 E refers the reader to TSD 9, Section 5.2 for a description of mitigation measures. The only relevant mitigation measure found in this section is that "mine rock stockpiles will be developed in stages and progressively closed off (i.e., capped) in order to minimize exposed surfaces to wind erosion." Chapter 6, Section 6.5.3.6 indicates that "progressive rehabilitation will be conducted to the extent possible" in the operations phase, but there is no indication in chapters 6 or 7 on when this rehabilitation could be started, and other references in these chapters discuss rehabilitation and revegetation in the closure and post-closure phases. It is also unclear how dust from wind erosion of tailings and at mine rock stockpiles will be reduced during the operations phase before progressive rehabilitation begins. Chapter 7, Section 7.3.4.5.1.3 states that "during operations, sources of dust may include [.] wind erosion of the stockpiles, TMF and MRMF. [.] Dust will be managed by watering and the progressive re-vegetation of stockpiles, TMF and MRMF", but it is unclear what "watering" entails and how it will be used.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Include dust from wind erosion into the air quality assessment and into the assessment of effects on human health, or provide a quantitative justification for its exclusion;
  2. Provide additional details on the timing of the progressive rehabilitation of the TMF, MRMF and other stockpiles. Where there is a period of time between the formation of any of these components and the beginning of the progressive rehabilitation, describe any other mitigation measures that will be implemented to avoid or reduce dust from wind erosion. In particular, provide additional details on the watering of the TMF, MRMF and stockpiles that is mentioned in Section 7.3.4.5.1.3 of the EIS;
  3. Where necessary, describe any effects that may result from exposure to the dust from wind erosion; update mitigation measures to reduce these effects; describe residual effects after mitigation; propose any follow-up programs necessary to verify the efficacy of the mitigation measures or the EA predictions;
  4. As required in HE(2)-18, include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in your response to IE(2)-19.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD2(A1)-13 (41.0), CEAA-FD2(A1)-14 (42.0)
IR-1 #: IE(1)-21, IE(1)-22
IR-2 #: IE(2)-22
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.1; Part 2, Section 6.2.6; Part 2, Section 9.2.
Reference to EIS: TSD 11.

Context and Rationale:

While the 5 dB adjustment for tonality described in the proponent's response to IE(1)-21 B is consistent with Appendix B of Health Canada's noise guidance, it is unclear how this adjustment was applied, as no details are provided in TSD 11 or in Chapter 7 of the EIS. This information is needed to ensure that effects to health and to current use of lands and resources are based on well-developed models for noise.

Comment IE(1)-22 C required that TSD 11, Section 5.2.2, Figure 5.2.2-1, be updated to include identifying features such as lakes, along with any new receptors?. This updated map was not provided in the response to IR-1. The existing map, as presented, is difficult to follow since identifying features such as lakes are missing.

While the Agency acknowledges Prodigy's commitment to forming an Environmental Monitoring Committee, the responses to IE(1)-22 E, F, and G do not allow the Agency to understand viable options for additional mitigation measures or follow-up programs that could be used, or proposed processes to proactively notify Indigenous communities of anticipated exceedances of noise limits, along with any proposed noise complaint protocols. It is unclear whether these mechanisms have been discussed with Indigenous groups, and if final details can be determined at a later date through the proposed Environmental Monitoring Committee.

Prodigy's response to IE(1)-07 (Appendix 1, page 5) indicates land use at Goudreau Lake by MCFN for hunting and fishing; these areas appear to show potential exceedances of NPC-300 limits according to TSD 11, Figure 5.2.2-1, along with other areas to the east and the south of the PSA. As Prodigy responds to comment IE(2)-01, new receptors may be found, particularly to the east or the south of the PSA.

Since the proponent indicated in its response to IE(1)-22 B that mitigation measures for noise are inherent in the design of the site, it is unclear to the Agency what additional mitigation measures could be implemented by Prodigy if exceedances of NPC-300 limits were to occur in locations of land use.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  • A. Provide details of how the 5 dB adjustment was applied and incorporated into the noise assessment. If this information is clearly detailed in the EIS, provide a reference to the document and section;
  • B. Update TSD 11, Section 5.2.2, Figure 5.2.2-1 to include identifying features such as lakes, and to include the locations of any new receptors that are identified through engagement and traditional knowledge in the course of addressing Agency IR IE(2)-01, and any updates to the model that stem from question A;
  • C. Outline a follow-up program to ensure that noise levels in all areas where current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes may occur will remain below MOECC NPC-300 noise limits;
  • D. Describe additional mitigation measures that can be implemented if noise levels in areas where land use may continue during the Project are found to be above MOECC NPC-300 noise limits;
  • F. Outline and describe the proposed processes to proactively notify Indigenous communities of anticipated exceedances of noise limits, along with any proposed noise complaint protocols;
  • F. Demonstrate that Indigenous groups are satisfied with the proposed measures to address noise exceedances, and/or mechanisms described for the proposed Environmental Monitoring Committee;
  • G. As required in HE(2)-18, include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in your response to IE(2)-22.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD65 (19.0)
IR-1 #: HE(1)-18
IR-2 #: HE(2)-18
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions; 5(1)(c)(ii) Aboriginal Physical and Cultural Heritage; 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.1; Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 9, Section 3.6.2; TSD 11, Section 5.2.2; TSD 12, Section 3.3.4; TSD 14, Appendix A, Section 4.1.

Context and Rationale:

While the Agency acknowledges Prodigy's response to HE(1)-18 and IE(1)-01 for excluding receptor points HHR007, HHR008, HHR009 and HHR011, it remains that additional receptors may be identified through Prodigy's response to IE(2)-01. These receptors need to be considered in the air quality, noise and vibration assessments, and any changes predicted in these assessments need to be carried through into assessments on human health and current use of lands and resources, in locations where land use by Indigenous peoples can be reasonably expected during any phase of the Project. Any mitigation measures and follow-up programs should be relevant to locations where land use may occur – for example, in IE(2)-22, it is noted that land use may be occurring in areas where noise levels are predicted to exceed MOECC NPC-300 limits. It is unclear to the Agency what measures could be implemented by Prodigy if exceedances of NPC-300 limits were to occur in locations of land use, or if increases in noise from background levels would result in a decrease in the quality of experience of users (For instance, is Prodigy contemplating proactive notification to Indigenous land users to ensure that they avoid receptor locations during times of exceedances? If so, provide details of the intended measures. A commitment to ongoing dialogue via the Environmental Monitoring Committee is not a proxy for clearly articulated measures).

The Agency requires this information to understand the potential effects of changes to the environment on Aboriginal Peoples health, physical and cultural heritage and the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes in locations where use is known to occur or may occur.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in the air quality, noise and vibration assessments.
  2. provide the following:
    • updated assessment and conclusions, including of effects to human health and to current use of lands and resources when there is a pathway of effect from the air quality, noise or vibration assessments;
    • specific and measurable mitigation measures;
    • a rationale and analysis of conclusions for residual effects;
    • determination of significance of residual effects with magnitude levels based on quantitative descriptors;
    • a follow-up program for potential effects to human health, including objectives and any monitoring measures that will be implemented to verify the predictions of effects and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures; and
    • input from Indigenous groups on the methodology (including significance criteria), mitigation measures, follow-up programs and conclusions for residual effects.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD66 (20.0)
IR-1 #: HE(1)-19
IR-2 #: HE(2)-19
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 14; IR-1 Response, Appendix B5.

Context and Rationale:

The revised significance assessment criteria provided in response to HE(1)-19 A, and shown in Appendix B5, Table 3.4-1 and 3.4-2, do not adequately address several factors related to human health. It is unclear how the significance assessment addresses each of these factors.

  • Short term exposures to a contaminant can result in health effects with a long duration. Therefore duration and frequency criteria should assess the duration and frequency of the human health effect, and not the duration and frequency of the conditions causing the effect;
  • The reversibility criterion should distinguish, if possible in a quantitative manner, between an effect that is "temporary" and an effect that is "reversible with time", and a time horizon where an effect would become "permanent";
  • The magnitude assessment criteria do not address non-threshold pollutants; the criteria should distinguish between threshold and non-threshold pollutants, and carcinogens vs. non-carcinogens;
  • The magnitude assessment references the same thresholds (hazard quotient (HQ) > 1, incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILCR) > 1x10-6 and percent highly annoyed (%HA) > 6.5%) for low and high magnitude levels. In cases where any of these thresholds are exceeded, it is unclear how Prodigy distinguishes between a project-related health effect that is "not expected and by extension a change in human health is not expected" (low magnitude), and a project-related health effect that has "the potential to occur and may result in a change to human health" (high magnitude). As several chemicals of potential concern (COPC) are shown in TSD 14, Appendix A, Section 7 to have predicted HQ or ILCR values that exceed the named thresholds, it is important that the EIS describes, in a transparent manner, how they concluded that these exceedances of their thresholds are "not expected and by extension a change in human health is not expected". The conservativeness of the model cannot be the sole rationale for drawing that conclusion, particularly in cases where the inputs are not realistic.
  • Significance should be assessed based on residual effects after mitigation has been implemented. Monitoring and follow-up programs should not be embedded within the magnitude criteria. These programs are established to address any uncertainties related to the predictions of effects on human health from the assessment itself.

While the original question HE(1)-19 C required Prodigy to "carry carcinogenic chemicals with constant and long-term exposures through the human health risk assessment, even if HQ values are expected to remain below 1", Prodigy's response only discusses PM2.5. In addition to PM2.5, other carcinogens were screened out of the HHRA because predicted exposure levels are lower than regulatory benchmarks. As further discussed in HE(2)-21, ensure that the HHRA addresses toxicological characteristics of carcinogens and presence/absence of any potential additive effects from various exposure routes and pathways. Carcinogenic chemicals can result in human health effects at any dose. The significance determination for human health should account for exposures with HQ values below 1 that are constant and of long-term duration, in order to have a complete understanding of potential effects of the Project on the health of Aboriginal peoples..

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Update the significance criteria provided in Appendix B5, Tables 3.4-1 and 3.4-2 to address points (i) to (v) in the Context and Rationale section, or discuss specifically how each of these elements are addressed in the criteria proposed in those tables;
  2. Identify any carcinogens that were screened out from the HHRA because their predicted HQ values are expected to remain below 1, and include them in a revised HHRA;
  3. Where necessary, update mitigation measures to reduce any new effects identified through questions A or B; describe residual effects after mitigation; propose any follow-up programs necessary to verify the efficacy of the mitigation measures or the EA predictions;
  4. As required in HE(2)-18, include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in your response to HE(2)-19, as necessary.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD67
IR-1 #: HE(1)-20
IR-2 #: HE(2)-20
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 14.

Context and Rationale:

From Prodigy's response to HE(1)-20 B, it is unclear whether the applied toxicity reference values (TRVs) in the HHRA are designed to protect human receptors in the most sensitive life stage. It is also unclear how the life-stage characteristics of receptors, such as the age-dependent adjustment factors for life stage (ADAFs), were included in the estimate for health risks of non-threshold carcinogens. This information is required to have a complete understanding of potential effects of the Project on the health of Aboriginal peoples.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide detailed examples of calculations of the final ILCR values to demonstrate that TRVs and ADAFs used in the assessment are designed to protect human receptors in the most sensitive life stage;
  2. Where updated calculations show ILCR values that could lead to significant effects to human health, describe additional mitigation measures that can be applied to reduce new effects identified through question A; describe residual effects after mitigation; propose any follow-up programs necessary to verify the efficacy of the mitigation measures or the EA predictions;

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD68 (21.0)
IR-1 #: HE(1)-21
IR-2 #: HE(2)-21
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 14.

Context and Rationale:

Prodigy's response to HE(1)-21 A indicates that "it is common practice to provide a separate assessment of the inhalation exposure pathway from the multi-media pathways (i.e., ingestion and dermal contact pathways)." Prodigy assessed the non-threshold health effects of the inhalation exposure pathway separately from those of the multi-media pathways (i.e., ingestion and dermal contact pathways), based on the assumption that the two pathways have different toxicological endpoints (i.e., different modes of action and different target organs). Health Canada notes, in its 2010 guidance Federal Contaminated Site Risk Assessment in Canada, Part V: Guidance on Human Health Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment for Chemicals (DQRAChem), in Section 6.3.5, page 86, that "exposure estimates or risk estimates may likewise be summed across exposure routes (ingestion, dermal, and inhalation routes) if there is evidence that the same mechanisms of toxicity occur or the same target organs are affected".

As one example that would be relevant to this review, a renal toxic effect (e.g., proteinuria) has been reported during chronic exposures to cadmium through inhalation, as well as oral ingestion (ATSDR, 2012: Toxicological Profiles for Cadmium. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp5.pdf). Therefore, renal toxic effects of cadmium should be considered as additive for the exposure routes at issue (i.e. inhalation and ingestion).

Any oversights of potential exposure pathways, target organs, and toxic endpoints of other COPCs may result in an incomplete risk assessment, which is required to have a complete understanding of potential effects of the Project on the health of Aboriginal peoples. Prodigy should carefully review toxicological characteristics of COPCs for their modes of action, target organs, toxic endpoints, etc. and clarify presence/absence of any potential additive effects from various exposure routes and pathways.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. As per Health Canada's guidance, describe potential additive effects from various exposure routes and pathways in the HHRA. In particular, demonstrate how additive effects for cadmium are considered, as per the reference provided in the Context for this question;
  2. Where new effects on human health are found through question A, describe additional mitigation measures that can be applied to reduce these effects; describe residual effects after mitigation; propose any follow-up programs necessary to verify the efficacy of the mitigation measures or the EA predictions;
  3. As required in HE(2)-18, include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in your response to HE(2)-21.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD71, CEAA-FD2(A1)-7 (37.0)
IR-1 #: HE(1)-24, IE(1)-15
IR-2 #: HE(2)-24
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5 (1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 14; TSD 15-1, Appendix C; TSD 15-2.

Context and Rationale:

Prodigy's responses to HE(1)-24 B and IE(1)-15 indicate that the comparison of whole body fish tissue data for mercury collected in 2016 indicates that the range of concentrations observed are similar to those reported for muscle and liver tissue from 2011 and 2012, and that the use of the 2011-2012 data are considered to be representative of whole body fish. No statistical analysis was provided to demonstrate that the range of concentrations for mercury or other contaminants were similar. This information is required to ensure that the understanding of potential effects of the Project on the health of Aboriginal peoples is based on complete and representative data, particularly given the concern about mercury hazard quotients described in IE(2)-14.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide statistical analysis to justify that the whole body fish tissue data collected in 2016 has a range of concentrations similar to those reported for muscle and liver tissue in 2011 and 2012;
  2. If the statistical analysis does not demonstrate that the whole body fish tissue data collected in 2016 has a range of concentrations similar to those reported for muscle and liver tissue in 2011 and 2012, update the HHRA to include the 2011-2012 and 2016 fish tissue and whole fish data;
  3. If the HHRA is updated through question B, describe additional mitigation measures that can be applied to reduce new effects identified in the updated HHRA; describe residual effects after mitigation; propose any follow-up programs necessary to verify the efficacy of the mitigation measures or the EA predictions;
  4. As required in HE(2)-18, include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in your response to HE(2)-24.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD72 (23.0)
IR-1 #: HE(1)-25
IR-2 #: HE(2)-25
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.1; Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 14, Sections 8.0 and 9.0.

Context and Rationale:

Prodigy's response to HE(1)-25 A indicates that "a quantitative uncertainty/sensitivity analysis was not considered to be required, given that any chemicals associated with potential risks based upon the calculated HQs and ILCRs have proposed monitoring in surface water and air." Monitoring may be proposed to confirm the assumptions used in the HHRA, but monitoring alone is not sufficient to support the conclusion drawn in TSD 14, Section 9.0 that "considering the assumptions and conservative approach relied upon in the HHRA, potential health effects from the Project are not expected." It is not appropriate to rely only on highly-conservative assumptions and on the "conservative approach" to conclude that identified potential health effects from the Project are not expected.

An uncertainty analysis would quantify the level of conservativeness for each of the input parameters named in TSD 14, Section 8.0, Table 8-1, and the impacts or significance to the risk estimates discussed. It would provide information to determine the conservativeness built in by using generic consumption rates rather than site-specific data; excluding emissions related to off-site vehicle traffic; excluding the sediment exposure pathway; applying the Ontario Typical Range (OTR98) of chemical soil parameters rather than using the site specific baseline soil data; and not using baseline data for wild game and contaminant uptake in country foods.

Hazard quotient (HQ) estimates for the conservative HHRA scenario assumed in TSD 14 should be compared to HQ estimates for a representative HHRA scenario, to obtain a quantitative sense of the sources of uncertainty listed in TSD 14, Section 8.0, Table 8-1. The Agency requires this comparison, in order to clarify which mitigation measures are most important to reduce potential effects to human health, and to focus follow-up programs on parameters with the highest uncertainties. It is of particular interest to understand the uncertainty surrounding mercury, given the high hazard quotients identified (see IE(2)-14).

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Compare hazard quotient (HQ) estimates for the conservative HHRA scenario provided in TSD 14 to HQ estimates for a representative HHRA scenario;
  2. Describe, based on the comparison provided in response to question A, how existing mitigation measures and follow-up programs are used to address each source of uncertainty identified in TSD 14, Section 8.0, and Table 8-1;
  3. Where necessary, describe any new mitigation measures or follow-up programs that can serve to reduce sources of high uncertainty in the HHRA;
  4. As required in HE(2)-18, include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in your response to HE(2)-25.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD2(A1)-6 (36.0)
IR-1 #: IE(1)-14
IR-2 #: IE(2)-14
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(i) Aboriginal Peoples Health/ socio-economic conditions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: TSD 14, Section 5.2; TSD 14, Appendix A, Section 7.2 and 9.0.

Context and Rationale:

Prodigy's response to IE(1)-14 indicates that "hazard quotients were greater than 1 for both Base Case and Project Case scenarios (TSD 14, Appendix A, Section 7.2, Table 7.2-1), indicating a potential health risk due to mercury in fish tissue. As a result, monitoring of water quality was proposed given that the pathway by which mercury concentrations in fish tissue may change is as a result of increased mercury in surface water." According to Table 7.2-1, the Project Case HQ for mercury is estimated at 16, and the Base + Project Case HQ is estimated at 21. The Agency notes that no mitigation measures are identified in TSD 14, Section 5.2, or in response to IE(1)-14, to reduce effects to human health by reducing the potential for bioaccumulation and exposure to humans through consumption.

TSD 14, Appendix A, Section 9.0 indicates that predicted health risks for mercury is "largely due to the fish ingestion pathway, which relied upon conservative predictions of chemical uptake into fish tissue and assumptions related to the amount and frequency of fish consumed by people. Although health risks were predicted for [mercury], considering the assumptions and conservative approach relied upon in the HHRA, exposure and by extension health risks were likely overpredicted and therefore potential health effects from the Project are not expected."

Health Canada also notes that the HHRA may have underestimated long-term risk from multi-pathway exposure to mercury by dose-averaging the exposure frequency, as noted in TSD 14, Section 7.1: "hazard quotients were calculated for non-carcinogenic COPCs as shown for the 1-hour and 24-hour averaging periods above, except that amortization using the Exposure Term (represented by the exposure time and exposure frequency provided in [TSD 14,] Section 5.1) has been incorporated into the calculation (Health Canada 2012)."

The dose-averaging should be considered and applied based on toxicological characteristics (e.g., elimination half-life, persistence, concentration- vs. dose-based toxicity) on a chemical-by-chemical basis (Health Canada, 2016: Memorandum: A Primer for Evaluating Human Health Risks at Contaminated Sites for Chronic and Less-Than-Chronic Exposures to Chemicals). Dose-averaging may not be appropriate for the assessment of mercury due to its long elimination half-life and developmental toxic effects (ATSDR, 1999: Toxicological Profile for Mercury). It is unclear how toxicological characteristics of mercury, and its suitability for the dose-averaging were considered in the HHRA.

As an extension of comment HE(2)-25, the Agency requires that a representative HHRA scenario be presented and compared to the conservative HHRA scenario presented in TSD 14, to increase the Agency's confidence that the exposure and health risks were "likely overpredicted" for mercury by the conservative HHRA scenario. In particular, this comparison would quantify the extent to which health risks from the fish ingestion pathway are overpredicted.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. From HE(2)-25 A, compare hazard quotient (HQ) estimates for mercury for the conservative HHRA scenario to HQ estimates for mercury for a representative HHRA scenario;
  2. Describe how the comparison presented in question A demonstrates that exposure and health risks were "likely overpredicted" for mercury, and are largely due to the fish ingestion pathway. In particular, this comparison would quantify the extent to which health risks from the fish ingestion pathway are overpredicted by the conservative scenario;
  3. Discuss why dose-averaging was chosen for the HHRA for mercury, and describe how the toxicological characteristics of mercury, including elimination half-life, persistence, and concentration- vs. dose-based toxicity, are considered;
  4. Identify and describe mitigation measures to reduce the effects to human health, including measures that would reduce the potential for bioaccumulation and exposure to humans through consumption;
  5. Provide details of follow-up programs to confirm that exposure and by extension health risks were likely overpredicted, and to confirm that potential health effects from the Project would not occur;
  6. As required in HE(2)-18, include any new receptor locations identified in response to IE(2)-01 in your response to IE(2)-14.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD76
IR-1 #: TW(1)-01
IR-2 #: TW(2)-01
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(iii) Migratory Birds; 5(1)(c)(ii) Aboriginal Physical and Cultural Heritage; 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes; 5(2) Linked to Regulatory Permits/Authorizations (specify which legislation)
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.4; Part 2, Section 6.3.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Sections 7.4.2, 7.4.3, 7.4.4, 7.4.5, 7.4.6, 7.4.7.

Context and Rationale:

Part 2, Section 6.3 of the EIS Guidelines states that each mitigation measure "will be specific, achievable, measurable and verifiable, and described in a manner that avoids ambiguity in intent, interpretation and implementation."

Elements of restoration, rehabilitation and monitoring plans are included as mitigation measures in various sections of Chapter 7, and are used to support the conclusion of non- significance for several residual effects including current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes (loss of species habitat), migratory birds and species at risk.

The response to TW(1)-01 (CEAA-FD76) included a table (Table 1) linking mitigation commitments and monitoring to the Valued Components and Key Direct Effects as well as the Closure Plan. In addition, mitigation and monitoring measures are discussed within several other IR1 responses (e.g., TW(1)-07 (CEAA-FD82), TW(1)-10 (CEAA-FD85)).

However, Table 1 does not contain a comprehensive list of mitigation commitments and monitoring programs. In several cases, the information provided in Chapter 7, other IR-1 responses and Table 1 conflict. For example:

  • In Table 1, monitoring of terrestrial vegetation is scheduled to occur every five years until the forest canopy reaches 10 m in height, however in Chapter 7, Table 7-117, forest monitoring is scheduled to occur annually in July.
  • In Chapter 7, Table 7-157, where bat monitoring is scheduled to occur post-closure during the spring emergence and fall pre-hibernation swarm. However in IR-1 response to TW(1)-07 (CEAA-FD82), bat monitoring is scheduled annually in the winter for five years.
  • The responses to TW(1)-01 and TW(1)-03 (CEAA-FD76 and CEAA-FD78), speak to terrestrial habitat monitoring post-closure, not species specific monitoring (migratory birds including waterfowl and Species at Risk - Eastern Whip-poor-will, Common Nighthawk, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada Warbler, Chimney Swift, and Rusty Blackbird). However, Part F of the proponent's response to TW(1)-03 (CEAA-FD78), states that one of the objectives of the follow up monitoring plan is to "detect and measure changes in avian species diversity, density and richness." This objective can only be achieved with species-specific surveys.

The Agency acknowledges that these programs will be finalized by the Closure Working Group and updated in response to future environmental conditions. However, information presented at this time must be clear and consistent across chapters and sections of the proponent's documentation. Furthermore, additional information is required to substantiate the conclusions made in the significance assessment. In the absence of details on the specific design criteria, duration and frequency for monitoring and mitigation programs, it is not clear how a conclusion of no significance was determined. Further, details on applicable follow up programs were not clear in the event that design criteria are not met and alternate mitigation measures are required.

This information is important for the Agency to understand the residual effects as the loss of plant species and habitat may result in effects to migratory birds, species at risk, current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, and physical and cultural heritage.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Update Table 1 from the response to TW(1)-01 (CEAA-FD76) with mitigation and monitoring measures discussed within the EIS and responses to IR-1 (TW(1)-01 through TW(1)-12 (CEAA-FD76 through CEAA-FD85 and CEAA-FD2(A1)-21)), ensuring that the "specific, achievable, measurable and verifiable" objectives, design criteria, duration (based on number of years, project phase or achieving specific design criteria) and frequency are included, and consistent across all documentation. Where appropriate, describe how efficacy of mitigation programs will be verified and alternative mitigation measures to be implemented if design criteria are not met;
  2. Provide a detailed description of the proposed rehabilitation plan for the project area including approximate areas of rehabilitation by ecosite type (including peat accumulating wetlands), and linkages between appropriate ecosites to habitat used by migratory and breeding birds, species at risk, amphibians and species of interest to Indigenous groups. Where details will need to be finalized through a regulatory process, provide clear information on the outcomes that a particular aspect of the rehabilitation plan is meant to achieve;
  3. Remove non-committal phrases such as "explore" and "should" from mitigation and monitoring measures and replace with actionable commitments;
  4. Provide a commitment that input received from Indigenous groups will be included in the design and implementation of the rehabilitation plan. Specify if a role may be played by Indigenous groups in any follow-up programs.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD77
IR-1 #: TW(1)-02
IR-2 #: TW(2)-02
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(iii) Migratory Birds; 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.4; Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.4.5, 7.4.6.

Context and Rationale:

Part 2, Section 6.2.4 of the EIS Guidelines requires the proponent to consider "direct bird or wildlife mortality that could be caused by clearing of sites or birds and wildlife being in contact with contaminated waters."

The responses to TW(1)-02 (CEAA-FD77)A-G do not address the potential effects of water quality in the tailings management facility (TMF) on waterfowl and furbearer. Furthermore, there is conflicting information regarding the potential effects of three detention ponds and the Water Quality Control Pond (WQCP) on waterfowl and furbearers.

Chapter 7, Section 7.4.5.5.2 states that "water in [the tailings pond and water quality control pond .] and wetlands may not meet guidelines, resulting in an increased exposure of waterfowl to contaminants." Additionally, Chapter 7, Section 7.4.6.6 states: "Where technically and economically feasible, measures will be implemented to exclude access by mammals to water quality ponds." However, the response to TW(1)-02 (CEAA-FD77) states that there will "no effects on waterfowl because the water quality will be superior to the discharge standards authorized under [Metal Mining Effluent Regulations] MMER and [Ontario Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement] MISA."

However, the Agency notes that there are insufficient details on the potential effects of the water quality in the TMF, the detention ponds and the WQCP on waterfowl and furbearers, including bioaccumulation of contaminants. The proponent should assess potential effects of water quality from the TMF, detention ponds and WQCP using applicable Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines.

Furthermore, the Agency notes that there are insufficient details in Chapter 7 and the response to TW(1)-02 regarding measures to mitigate the effects of contaminants on furbearers and waterfowl or to discourage use of the TMF, detention ponds and WQCP by waterfowl and furbearers.

This information is important for the Agency to understand the effects on migratory birds and the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Assess potential effects of exposure to TMF, detention ponds and WQCP water quality on migratory birds and species of interest to Indigenous groups that may access these open water areas using applicable CCME guidelines;
  2. Describe mitigation measures that will be implemented to deter migratory birds and other wildlife from accessing the TMF, WQCP and detention ponds should contamination levels in these waterbodies exceed applicable CCME guidelines;
  3. Characterize residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;
  4. Reassess the significance assessment, if necessary, taking responses from Questions A to C into account.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD80
IR-1 #: TW(1)-05
IR-2 #: TW(2)-05
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(ii) Aboriginal Physical and Cultural Heritage; 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.4; Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.4.4.

Context and Rationale:

Chapter 12 Section 3.5.3 of the EIS, as well as Appendix 1, indicate that moose are hunted by Indigenous groups in the PSA, LSA, and/or RSA, specifically by MCFN and MNO. Chapter 7, Section 7.7.2.5.2 of the EIS states "Diversion of moose away from the PSA may result in an increased density in the LSA, but no effects are anticipated on moose populations in the long-term" and "Although the PSA is not highly valued as a hunting area, the development of the Project will displace the potential for hunting in the PSA."

The response to TW(1)-05 (CEAA-FD80), specifically the statement "No changes in moose populations or habitat use are expected," seems to contradict the information above. It also does not take into account the effects on Indigenous land users from these changes. Whether changes to moose populations or habitat are small in area or short in duration, an effects assessment must still be completed on how these changes could impact Indigenous groups, specifically the groups that identified big-game hunting, historically or currently, in the PSA, LSA, and RSA.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Describe the effects that these changes to moose populations and habitat may have on the ability of Indigenous people to hunt moose;
  2. Incorporate the information in this response into other IR responses, notably IE(02)-01 and IE(2)-02, keeping in mind that effects to hunting may result in socio-economic impacts in addition to impacts to current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes;
  3. If the conclusions to the assessment of current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes changes, provide the following:
    • updated description of the mitigation measures to prevent adverse effects on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes;
    • characterization of the residual effects, if any, after the mitigation measures have been implemented;
    • reassessment of the significance determination for current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, if necessary;
    • updated description of the follow-up program for potential effects to current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, including objectives and any monitoring measures that will be implemented to verify the predictions of effects and evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures. If follow-up is not required, provide a rationale;
  4. Clarify if and how input received from Indigenous groups will be included in the design and implementation of any follow-up program. Specify if a role may be played by Indigenous groups in the follow-up program.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD81
IR-1 #: TW(1)-06
IR-2 #: TW(2)-06
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(c)(ii) Aboriginal Physical and Cultural Heritage; 5(1)(c)(iii) Current Use of Lands and Resources for traditional purposes
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.4; Part 2, Section 6.2.6.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.4.4; Chapter 12, Section 3.5.3.

Context and Rationale:

Chapter 12 Section 3.5.3 of the EIS, and the response to TW(1)-06 states "effects on habitat of species of special concern (e.g., eagles) were seldom if ever explicitly raised by participants." This statement is imprecise. Clarity is needed on whether eagles were commented on by Indigenous groups and the nature of the comment.

Section 7.0 of Appendix R states ".Aboriginal groups did not identify locations, traditional uses, cultural activities or special places specifically related to eagles in the PSA, LSA, RSA or beyond." Eagles may be a valued species without having a specific location attached to that value. Also, Chapter 12 Section 3.5.3 of the EIS states "some raptor species (e.g. eagles) have cultural importance for Aboriginal people." This seems like a general statement. Clarification is needed on whether eagles were identified as a species of cultural significance during engagement, or through TK/TLUs.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Clarify whether eagles were identified by Indigenous groups as a valued species, either through engagement or in TK/TLUs;
  2. If eagles were identified as a valued species, update the assessment of effects to Aboriginal Physical and Cultural Heritage to include consideration of effects of changes to the environment on Bald eagles. Describe any mitigation measures, residual effects and significance determinations applicable.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD82
IR-1 #: TW(1)-07
IR-2 #: TW(2)-07
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(2) Linked to Regulatory Permits/Authorizations (specify which legislation)
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.4.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 7, Section 7.4.7.6; Chapter 7, Table 7-156.

Context and Rationale:

Part 2, Section 6.2.4 of the EIS Guidelines requires the proponent to consider "the potential effects of the project on provincially and federally listed species at risk (flora and fauna) and their critical habitat"

The proponent notes that two, federally-listed SAR mammals - Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis - have been detected at the project site, and that destruction of critical habitat (i.e., the historical mine adit) will be unavoidable.

In the EIS, Chapter 7, Table 7-156 provides possible mitigation measures, and in the revised response to TW(1)-07 (CEAA-FD82), further details on these mitigation measures are described, however the timeline for implementation and firm commitments are not provided.

Part 2, Section 6.3 of the EIS Guidelines states that the EIS will describe mitigation measures that are specific to each environmental effect identified. Measures will be written as specific commitments that clearly describe how the proponent intends to implement them. Where mitigation measures have been identified in relation to species and/or critical habitat listed under the Species at Risk Act, the mitigation measures will be consistent with any applicable recovery strategy and action plans.

Furthermore, the environmental impact statement will also present an assessment of the effectiveness of the proposed technically and economically feasible mitigation measures.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Describe the mitigation measures Prodigy Gold plans to implement to prevent adverse effect on Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis due to the loss of critical habitat, and how these measures are consistent with the applicable recovery and action plans. Ensure the mitigation measures for Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis described within the response to TW(2)-01 (CEAA-FD76) and TW(2)-07 are consistent;
  2. Provide a timeline for the implementation of mitigation measures. Clarify how the timeline will ensure implemented mitigation measures are functional prior to the removal of the existing critical habitat (mine adit);
  3. Describe the "specific, achievable, measurable and verifiable" design criteria for the proposed mitigation measures, and how they will be evaluated;
  4. Describe the technical effectiveness and uncertainties of the mitigation measures, and how alternative mitigation measures discussed in the response to TW(1)-07 would be implemented if design and success criteria are not met.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD84
IR-1 #: TW(1)-09
IR-2 #: TW(2)-09
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(1)(a)(iii) Migratory Birds; 5(2) Linked to Regulatory Permits/Authorizations (specify which legislation)
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 1, Section 6.2.4.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 4, Section 4.3.10; Chapter 11, Section 11.5.3.7; TSD 17, Sections 3.2.3-3.2.9, 4.2.3.4; Chapter 7, Section 7.4.7.5.2.

Context and Rationale:

The proponent has reported that one Chimney Swift was observed at the disturbed old mine site in 2013 and the effort made to locate the Chimney Swift nest in 2014 consisted of a single survey in mid-June. This level of effort to determine possible Chimney Swift breeding or roosting sites is inconsistent with the Ontario SwiftWatch Monitoring Protocol from Bird Studies Canada, which provides a comprehensive method for surveying for Chimney Swift and their nests. Under this protocol, surveys are performed at least once a week during the following stages of the Chimney Swifts life cycle: Spring Migration May 14th – May 26th; Nesting June 9th- June 25th; Roosting July 7th – July 23rd; and Fall Migration August 4th – August 18th.

This information is important for the Agency to understand as the residual effects in question may result in potential effects to Chimney swift which is a migratory bird species as well as a species at risk.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide the rationale for using a single survey for locating the Chimney Swift nest, and no surveys for locating Chimney Swift individuals, to determine the species' use of the site;
  2. Describe the level of uncertainty associated with the survey methodology used, and how this uncertainty will be managed during the project.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD86
IR-1 #: EA(1)-01a
IR-2 #: EA(2)-01a
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 5(2) Linked to Regulatory Permits/Authorizations (specify which legislation)
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 1, Section 1.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 4, Section 4.3.7.2, Table 4-67; Chapter 7, Section 7.4.4.6.2, Table 7-129, Section 7.6.1.5.7; Chapter 15, Section 15.1.6; TSD 17; Response to IR-1 Appendix 8.

Context and Rationale:

The response to EA(1)-01a does not carry through complete assessments of the effects of changes to the environment resulting from a federal decision, act or exercise of power. The impacts to fish and fish habitat will require authorization under the Fisheries Act due to the construction of the effluent discharge structure at Otto Lake, the construction of the tailings management facility (TMF) and the mine rock management facility (MRMF) including the associated reductions in flows and levels at Spring Lake (see FFH(2)-05 and FFH(2)-32). These project components and activities will be enabled by federal authorizations and therefore potential changes to the environment, other than those referred to in section 5, (1)(a) and (b), and any effect to socio-economic conditions other than those referred to in section 5(1)(c) of CEAA 2012 must be assessed.

Chapter 7, Section 7.6.1.5.7 of the EIS states that "There are a few small lakes and wetlands that will be drained or overprinted by the Project that are considered potential baitfish sources. In addition, much of the PSA will no longer be accessible for baitfish purposes." However, the assessment of losses to bait harvesting resources is incomplete as there is no information provided about the potential socio-economic effects of the loss of these resources. This should include specific mitigation measures and a significance determination of any residual effects.

Based on maps in Appendix 8 of the response to IR-1 and TSD 17, the construction of the TMF, MRMF, open pit, water quality control pond, overburden stockpiles, mill area and crusher stockpile will cause the direct loss of wetlands and amphibian breeding habitat due to overprinting. Additional losses or alterations of wetlands may occur from changes in water quantity, and the creation of a diversion channel between Spring Lake and McVeigh Creek. With respect to effects to wetlands and amphibian breeding habitat, it is unclear if the assessment of effects to wetlands has taken into account the effects of losses of water at Spring Lake, Waterbody 10, and the creation of a diversion channel from Spring Lake to McVeigh Creek.

The Agency also notes there is contradictory information in the EIS about the loss of amphibian breeding habitat, making it difficult to review the assessment and the significance determination. Chapter 4, Section 4.3.7.2, Table 4-67 states that "ten significant Amphibian Breeding Habitats (Wetlands) are present in the LSA", while Table 4-68 states that 18 ha of Amphibian Breeding Habitat exists in the LSA, of which 17 ha are in the PSA (i.e.: 94% of the breeding habitat in the LSA is in the PSA). However, Chapter 7, Section 7.4.4.6.2, Table 7-129 states that 17 ha of Amphibian Breeding Area will be lost to the Project, which amounts to 35% of the area present in the PSA (18% and 11% of the area present in the LSA and RSA, respectively). It is not clear how the percentages in Chapter 7 were derived, and if the significance determination of effects to amphibian breeding habitat is accurate.

More detail is required to understand how the terrestrial and wetland rehabilitation program will prevent adverse effects to organic/peat accumulating wetlands (see TW(2)-01)). Peatlands take thousands of years to develop naturally, and as a result, are considered difficult to construct or reclaim (Clymo 1983). Peatland reclamation requires an understanding of the hydrogeological setting of the area to be reclaimed and the ability to manage the storage properties of the watershed and the water budget (Ketcheson et al. 2016). Currently, peatland reclamation post-mining requires either peat salvaging within the project footprint prior to construction and storage in the appropriate hydrogeological setting to ensure viability post-closure or transferring of peat from a donor site to the reclaimed location.

The Agency requires this information to understand effects linked to Section 5(2) of CEAA 2012.

References Cited:

Clymo, R.S., 1983. Peat. In: Gore, A.J.P. (Ed.), Ecosystems of the World 4a: Mires: Swamp, Bog. Fen and Moor. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, New York, pp. 159–224.

Ketcheson, S.J., J.S. Price, S.K. Carey, R. M. Petrone, C.A. Mendoza, and K.J. Devito. 2016. Constructing fen peatlands in post-mining oil sands landscapes: challenges and opportunities from a hydrological perspective. Earth-Sciences Reviews 161:130-139.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide an assessment of effects to socio-economic conditions resulting from the loss of bait harvesting resources due to the construction of the TMF/MRMF, which requires authorizations under the Fisheries Act. Describe any mitigation measures, residual effects, significance determination and any follow-up programs necessary;
  2. Clarify if the assessment of effects to wetlands has taken into account the effects of losses of water at Spring Lake, Waterbody 10, and the creation of a diversion channel from Spring Lake to McVeigh Creek. If it has not, update the effects assessment to take these changes into account, including any changes to residual effects and significance determinations;
  3. Clarify the contradictory information on the effects to amphibian breeding habitat;
  4. Provide an updated assessment on amphibians using the correct information on the loss of amphibian breeding habitat due to the Project, specifically the construction of the TMF, MRMF, open pit, water quality control pond, overburden stockpiles, mill area and crusher stockpile. Describe any mitigation measures required to reduced or prevent residual effects, describe residual effects as applicable, determine the significance of residual effects, and describe any follow-up and monitoring programs required to verify EA predictions and the efficacy of mitigation measures;
  5. Provide additional information as required in TW(2)-01 on the aspects of the rehabilitation program that will mitigate the losses of organic/peat accumulating wetlands due to the project. Update the residual effects and significance determination as necessary if the mitigation measures described are no longer feasible, or provide alternative mitigation measures and describe any follow-up and monitoring programs required to verify EA predictions and the efficacy of mitigation measures (this information can be provided directly in the response to TW(2)-01, and reference here).

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD88
IR-1 #: EA(1)-02
IR-2 #: EA(2)-01
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 19(1)(a) Accidents and Malfunctions
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 6.2.7.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 8.

Context and Rationale:

The potential environmental effects of a worst-case TMF embankment failure scenario are not provided in sufficient detail in the response to EA(1)-02, or in the referenced EIS sections.

Section 6.2.7 of the EIS Guidelines, Effects of potential accidents or malfunctions, state that:

". The proponent will identify [.] the plausible worst case scenarios and the effects of these scenarios. This assessment will include an identification of the magnitude of an accident and/or malfunction, including the quantity, mechanism, rate, form and characteristics of contaminants and other materials likely to be released into the environment during the accident and malfunction events."

This has not been done.

While the TMF embankment failure is described in section 8.1.4.2 including a reference to the "Worst Case Dam Failure Assessment" in TSD 6, the potential environmental effects of this accident are only outlined in broad terms such as "resulting in serious harm to fish and fish habitat," "indirect consequences for the users of these resources," and "water quality effects could extend down to the Magpie River." Information on type of contamination, magnitude, spatial and temporal components, direct and indirect effects are not elaborated upon.

In addition, the effects of this accident scenario on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes have not been discussed.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Describe a worst-case TMF embankment failure scenario, prior to the application of mitigation measures and emergency procedures. Include the source, quantity, mechanism, rate, form and characteristics of contaminants and other materials (e.g. sediments) likely to be released to the surrounding environment during the accident, including in the near-term as well as mid-term; and in the near-lying water bodies as well as the Whitefish Lake and Steep Hill Generating Station Reservoirs;
  2. Describe in more detail (i.e. magnitude, extent, duration) the change to the receiving environment, e.g. effect on water quality, water quantity, sediment quality;
  3. Describe in more detail (i.e. magnitude, extent, duration) the resulting effects to wetlands, sensitive habitats, wildlife (including SAR), fish and fish habitat, aquatic species, migratory birds;
  4. Describe the resulting effects to current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD92
IR-1 #: CE(1)-01
IR-2 #: CE(2)-01
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 19(1) Cumulative environmental effects
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 7.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 4, Section 4.6.5, Chapter 11, Section 11.4.3.1.2.2.

Context and Rationale:

Chapter 4, Section 4.6.5 of the EIS and Appendix 1 of the response to IR-1 identifies current uses within the PSA/LSA/RSA, including hunting, fishing between Goudreau and Bearpaw Lakes. There is no consideration given in Chapter 11 to the potential interaction between the loss of vegetation in the RSA from forestry activities, with lost habitat for species of interest to Indigenous groups and degraded visual landscapes, which could have potential cumulative effects to hunting, trapping, gathering or cultural activities (at Goudreau and Bearpaw Lakes and Manitou Mountain, for example). It is insufficient to exclude this pathway of effect due a determination of "no significant effect" on terrestrial vegetation. The residual effect should be carried forward for consideration as it affects other VCs.

The rationale given in Chapter 11, Section 11.4.3.1.2.2 and in the response to CE(1)-01 for not carrying out a cumulative effects assessment on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes is that no significant residual adverse effects will result from the Magino Project, and that "proponents of . future activities are expected to continue to engage with Aboriginal groups to avoid significant effects on VCs of Aboriginal Interest." This should not exclude the VCs for assessment, as residual effects need to be considered in a cumulative effects assessment, whether or not they are significant. Two or more non-significant residual effects can interact to create a greater residual effect.

Furthermore, there is no discussion of the potential for multiple pathways of effects on a particular VC. For example, noise may alter quality of experience for fishing at Goudreau Lake as far as Bearpaw Lake, despite being below provincial thresholds for effects to human health. In addition, an increase in the use of water at Island Gold Mine in the future may also have a potential effect to fishing activities at Goudreau and Bearpaw Lakes. These interactions do not seem to have been considered when assessing cumulative effects to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, and Aboriginal physical and cultural heritage.

This information is required to understand the potential cumulative effects to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, and Aboriginal physical and cultural heritage.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide an assessment of the cumulative effects on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, and Aboriginal physical and cultural heritage that would occur from:
    • the loss of habitat for species of interest to Indigenous Peoples, including plant species used in gathering activities;
    • the potential interactions with Island Gold Mine (see CE(1)-03);
    • the interactions between multiple pathways of effects on a single activity, including from a change in quality of experience (e.g.: noise disturbance and changes in water quantity on fishing; loss of forest cover and change in the visual landscape from visibility of the mine on the practice of a cultural activity);
  2. Define and apply significance criteria to residual effects, and describe any additional mitigation measures that may be required to ensure no significant adverse residual cumulative effects.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD93
IR-1 #: CE(1)-03
IR-2 #: CE(2)-03
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 19(1) Cumulative environmental effects
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 7.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 11

Context and Rationale:

The response to CE(1)-02 states that "few details are available" on the proposed expansion of Island Gold Mine, and that "the underground mining activities do not overlap with the VCs identified for the Magino Project."

Documentation available on the proponent for Island Gold Mine's website (https://www.alamosgold.com/mines-and-projects/producing-mine/island-gold-canada/default.aspx) describes the potential interactions that Island Gold Mine could have with the Goudreau Lake watershed (through effluent discharge and removal of water further upstream at Maskinonge Lake, for example).

Potential cumulative effects to the air and watersheds could reasonably be expected and could have potential cumulative effects on fish and fish habitat, human health, and current use of lands and resources.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Provide an assessment of the potential cumulative effects of the project's interactions with Island Gold Mine on air quality, water quality and quantity, and the effects of changes to these environmental components to the health of Indigenous Peoples, fish and fish habitat;
  2. Identify any mitigation measures that may be required for any potential effects identified as a result of the response to A;
  3. Describe any follow-up programs that would be necessary to verify EA predictions and the effectiveness of mitigation measures, including contingency plans that may be required.

Prodigy ID: CEAA-FD96
IR-1 #: CE(1)-07
IR-2 #: CE(2)-07
Project Effects Link to CEAA 2012: 19(1) Cumulative environmental effects
Reference to EIS guidelines: Part 2, Section 7.
Reference to EIS: Chapter 11, Table 11-27, 11-28 and 11-29; Chapter 11, Section 11.5.4.2.4.4.

Context and Rationale:

The response to CE(1)-06 states that "The combined loss of forest coverage (Magino + Magpie Forest Management Unit) is expected to reach 25% as stated in the table [11-29 in Chapter 11]." This value is used to justify a "low" magnitude of effect to terrestrial vegetation.

The cumulative effects assessment (Chapter 11) states that the "area of the RSA to be disturbed by human activity into the foreseeable future is estimated to be 2975 ha, which represents 25% of the surface area of the RSA retained for the cumulative effects assessment (RSA is 110 km² or 11,000 ha)." However, 2975 ha represents 27% of the total RSA area. Furthermore, the magnitude of effects criteria as defined in Chapter 11, Table 11-28 consider vegetation removals as a percentage of the total vegetation, rather than the total area in the watersheds (the RSA is delineated by watersheds). Therefore, the removal of 2975 ha should be compared to the total vegetated area in the RSA, or 7802 ha (see table 11-27) and represents 38% of the vegetation in the RSA. A loss of 38% represents a Medium magnitude of effect (note: 27% would also represent a Medium magnitude of effect as defined in Chapter 11).

The geographic extent and duration of effects criteria are similarly not applied correctly. Based on the definitions in table 11-28 both should be considered High. It is unclear how the proponent's significance determination is justified using these criteria, and whether there should be additional mitigation measures considered for this potential cumulative effect.

The cumulative effects assessment does not provide a complete assessment of the effects that removal of vegetation from forestry activities would have on migratory birds, species of interest to Indigenous groups and to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.

The rationale provided in Chapter 11, Section 11.5.4.2.4.4 is that forestry management plans incorporate measures for the protection of significant wildlife habitat. However, significant wildlife habitat has a specific definition for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. It is unclear how the goal of protecting these habitats in a forest management area (as stated in the rationale in Chapter 11) will prevent cumulative effects to migratory birds or to species of interest to Indigenous groups in the Magino Project's Regional Study Area. There is no application of significance criteria to the potential residual cumulative effects to migratory birds or to species of interest to Indigenous groups.

This information is required to understand the potential for cumulative effects to migratory birds and to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.

Specific Question/ Request for Information:

  1. Carry forward the loss of 38% of the vegetation in the RSA to the assessment of cumulative effects on migratory birds (including on Eastern Whip-poor-will, Common Nighthawk, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Chimney Swift) and species of interest to Indigenous groups (see CE(2)-07), and to the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes (see CE(2)-01);
  2. Describe any mitigation measures applicable to the loss of vegetation as relevant to reduce or prevent adverse effects to migratory birds, species of interest to Indigenous groups and the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes;
  3. Define and apply significance criteria to residual effects, and describe any additional mitigation measures that may be required to ensure no significant adverse residual cumulative effects;
  4. Describe any follow-up and monitoring programs required to verify EA predictions and the efficacy of mitigation measures.
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