Participant Funding Program – Aboriginal Funding Envelope
Funding Review Committee's Report - Addendum

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. The PFP also includes an Aboriginal Funding Envelope (AFE) to strengthen the ability of Aboriginal groups to participate in federal or joint federal-provincial environmental assessment (EA) processes and in related consultation activities.

A funding review committee (FRC) independent of the 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 (CS). The FRC?s purpose was to assess funding applications received under the PFPAFE 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 allocation of funds.

Under the AFE for this project, a total of $91,000 was made available to support Aboriginal participation in the EA, and related consultation 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 December 8, 2011. Two applications were received requesting a total of $174,600. On December 12, 2011, the FRC met to review the applications. However, prior to December 8, the Agency's Crown Consultation Coordinator was contacted by one Aboriginal group, the Lktako Dene Nation, who requested an extension to the application deadline. An application deadline of December 20, 2011 was granted to them. The FRC was reconvened on January 6, 2012 to consider the Lktako Dene Nation's request for funding totalling $16,500.

This report will serve as an addendum to the previous report in which the FRC recommended allocating a total of $56,400 to the previous two applicants.

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 (km) northeast of Williams Lake, near the town of Likely, BC. The Project will process 40,000 tonnes per day of feed material over 10 years. The mineral resource will be mined in four phases from a single open pit with a predicted final footprint of 124 ha. 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 ha with an embankment height of 75 metres at the end of mine life. The preparation plant will process approximately 116 Mega 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.

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 the British Columbia 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 PFPAFE, funding may be provided to Aboriginal applicants to support their input to an EA and/or to support their engagement in consultation activities with the federal government. These activities must be linked to the EA of a proposed project through a comprehensive study, mediation or review panel.

Eligible recipients must plan to engage in Aboriginal consultation activities with the federal government that are linked to the EA of the proposed project and 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; and/or
  • Have expert information relevant to the anticipated environmental effects of the proposed project.

The applicant was deemed to have met the eligibility criteria.

Under the PFPAFE, 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 application received, and in reaching its conclusions and recommendations, the FRC took into consideration a number of factors, including the following:

  • Whether the Aboriginal group could demonstrate that they plan to engage in Aboriginal consultation activities with the federal government that are linked to the EA of the proposed project;
  • The ability of the Aboriginal group 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 the relationship between specific project components and the applicant's traditional lands and resources, and the applicant's proposed EA participation work plan;
  • Advice received from the Agency regarding which Aboriginal groups are expected to be participants in the EA, and the role that these groups may play in the EA;
  • The ability of the applicant to represent the interests of First Nation communities that might be impacted by the Project;
  • Presence/absence of specific project components within the traditional lands of First Nations represented by the applicant;
  • Project impacts on traditional lands and resources, and on the related interests and asserted rights and title of the First Nations represented by the applicant;
  • The extent to which the proposed activities meet the requirements of the PFPAFE; and
  • The eligible activities under the PFP - AFE 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.

Recommendation

The FRC recommends allocating $15,030 of the available PFP - AFE funding to support the Lktako Dene Nation.

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

The Funding Review Committee
Spanish Mountain Gold Mine Project

Aboriginal 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 - Updated
Spanish Mountain Gold Mine Project

Aboriginal Funding Envelope

Applicant Total Recommended Allocation Amount
Soda Creek Indian Band (Xatsull First Nation) $28,200
Williams Lake Indian Band $28,200
Lktako Dene Nation $15,030
TOTAL: $71,430
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