Participant Funding Program - Regular Funding Envelope
Funding Review Committee's Report
Allocation of Federal Funds for the Environmental Assessment of the
Spanish Mountain Gold Mine Project

The Participant Funding Program (PFP) is established pursuant to subsection 58(1.1) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act), which states: For the purposes of this Act, the Minister shall establish a participant funding program to facilitate the participation of the public in comprehensive studies, mediations and assessments by review panels.

A funding review committee (FRC) independent of the environmental assessment (EA) was established for the Spanish Mountain Gold Mine Project (the Project). The EA of the Project is being conducted by means of a comprehensive study. The FRC's purpose was to assess funding applications received under the PFP - Regular Funding Envelope (RFE) for the Project, and to provide recommendations to the President of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) on whether funding should be provided, and if so, in what amount.

The FRC was advised by the Agency that the PFP has recently been updated to provide greater consistency and clarity during the review of applications and the processes for allocating funds.

Under the RFE for this project, a total of $45,000, with the maximum amount of funding available to each applicant being $10,200, was made available to support public participation in the EA, and community engagement activities, linked to:

  • review and comment on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Guidelines submitted by Spanish Mountain Gold Ltd. (the proponent);
  • review and comment on the EIS submitted by the proponent; and
  • review and comment on the Comprehensive Study Report (CSR) prepared by the Agency.

The deadline to submit an application was November 21, 2011. Three applications were received requesting a total of $30,524.

On November 24, 2011, the FRC met to review the applications. The FRC members were Paul Scott, retired Regional Director of the Agency's Pacific and Yukon Regional Office, acting as Committee Chairperson; Patrick Duffy, Environmental Assessment Consultant; and Patrick Duxbury, Environmental Assessment Consultant.

Background

The Project is a proposed open- pit gold mine located approximately 70 kilometres northeast of Williams Lake, near the town of Likely, British Columbia (B.C.). The Project will process 40 000 tonnes per day of feed material over 10 years, and the single open pit with a final footprint of 124 hectares will be mined in four phases. The Project includes a waste material storage area near the pit and a subaqueous tailings storage facility. Acid generating and potentially acid generating material will be hauled to the tailings storage facility to be stored subaqueously. The tailings storage facility will cover a total surface area of 320 hectares with an embankment height of 75 metres at the end of mine life. The preparation plant will process approximately 116 metric tonnes of gold ore into gold doré. The gold doré is expected to be transported from the site once per week via armoured vehicles to a precious metals refiner located in either St. Catherines or Ottawa, Ontario.

Typical potential environmental effects of an open-pit mine may include:

  • airborne emissions (typically particulate matter, including fugitive dust) resulting from road use, construction and operation;
  • noise generation from mining operations, ore transportation and processing, and heavy machinery use;
  • surface water quantity and quality impacts from the diversion of watercourses to accommodate the pit and runoff from waste rock management facilities;
  • direct impacts to watercourses that drain from the tailings storage facility footprint, and indirect impacts from reduced downstream flows;
  • terrestrial habitat loss or degradation for the lifetime of the mine;
  • wildlife mortality from roadkill, construction and contaminants, and wildlife disturbance from habitat loss or habitat modification; and
  • acid rock drainage and metal leaching from waste dumps and the tailings storage facility.

The Agency received an acceptable project description on July 8, 2011. In consultation with interested federal authorities, the Agency has determined that the Project would be subject to a comprehensive study-type EA pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Project has also been identified as a major resource project by the Major Projects Management Office. The proposed project is also subject to a provincial EA pursuant to British Columbia's Environmental Assessment Act. The federal and provincial EAs will be coordinated and conducted in a cooperative manner according to the principles of the Canada-British Columbia Agreement for Environmental Assessment Cooperation (2004).

Eligibility

Under the PFP-RFE, funding may be provided to applicants to support their input to an EA. These activities must be linked to the EA of a proposed project through a comprehensive study, review panel or mediation.

Eligible recipients must be able to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have a direct, local interest in the proposed project, such as historical or cultural ties to the area likely to be affected by the proposed project.
  • Have community knowledge or Aboriginal traditional knowledge relevant to the EA.
  • Have expert information relevant to the anticipated environmental effects of the proposed project.

All of the applicants were deemed to have met the eligibility criteria.

Under the PFP-RFE, applicants can request funding for costs related to:

  • professional fees;
  • staff salaries and benefits;
  • local collection and distribution of information;
  • travel expenses;
  • rental of office space and meeting rooms;
  • office supplies and telephone charges;
  • administrative and reporting costs;
  • other expenses related to local collection and distribution of information;
  • legal fees;
  • purchase of relevant information material, with supporting information;
  • general media advertising and promotion; and
  • other detailed expenses, with supporting information.

Rationale for Allocation

In reviewing the three applications received, and in reaching its conclusions and recommendations, the FRC took into consideration a number of factors, including the following:

  • The ability of the applicant to demonstrate that they have met one or more of the eligibility criteria listed above.
  • The quality, clarity and content of the application, particularly with respect to (1) the relationship between specific project components and the applicant's traditional lands and resources, and (2) the applicant's proposed EA participation work plan.
  • The extent to which the proposed activities meet the requirements of the PFP-RFE.
  • The eligible activities under the PFP-RFE for the Project, which include:
    • reviewing and commenting on the EIS Guidelines; reviewing and commenting on the EIS;
    • reviewing and commenting on the CSR; and
    • preparing for and participating in internal community meetings to consider the proposed project.

Recommandation

The FRC recommends allocating $20,324 of the available PFP-RFE funding to support two applicants as follows:

  • $10,200 to Métis Nation British Columbia; and
  • $10,124 to the Likely Xat'sull Community Forest and the Likely District Chamber of Commerce.

The FRC further recommends that a condition of any funding allocation be that the applicants provide input to the EA through comments on the EIS Guidelines, the EIS and the CSR.

The Funding Committee
Spanish Mountain Gold Mine Project

Regular Funding Funding Envelope

______________________________________________________________________
Paul Scott, Committee Chairperson, Retired Regional Director of the Agency's Pacific and Yukon Regional Office

______________________________________________________________________
Patrick Duffy, Environmental Assessment Consultant

______________________________________________________________________
Patrick Duxbury, Environmental Assessment Consultant

Recommended Participant Funding Allocations
Spanish Mountain Gold Mine Project

Regular Funding Funding Envelope

Applicant Total recommended allocation amount
Métis Nation British Columbia $10,200
Richard Holmes $0
Likely Xat'sull Community Forest and Likely District Chamber of Commerce $10,124
TOTAL: $20,324
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