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Project Recommendation

Issued by the Minister of the Environment
under Chapter 10, Sections 8 and 9 of the Nisga'a Final Agreement

To

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada,
the responsible authorities for the Kitsault Mine Project
under the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 1992

Description of the project

Avanti Kitsault Mine Ltd. (the proponent) proposes to redevelop, construct, operate and decommission the Kitsault Mine Project, an open-pit molybdenum mine located about 140 kilometres north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The proposed ore production rate is up to 50,000 tonnes per day for up to 16 years of mine operations. The Project is located within the Nass Wildlife Area and Nass Area as described in the Nisga'a Final Agreement and includes components located on Nisga'a Lands.

Conduct of the environmental assessment

On November 8, 2010, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) determined that the Project is described in the Comprehensive Study List Regulations and that an environmental assessment pursuant to the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, S.C. 1992 (the former Act) was required. The Agency exercised the powers and performed the duties and functions of the responsible authorities for completing the comprehensive study consistent with the requirements of the former Act and acted on behalf of the Government of Canada to satisfy the relevant provisions of the Nisga'a Final Agreement. On June 27, 2014, I issued an Environmental Assessment Decision Statement concluding that the Project is not likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects, as defined in the former Act, taking into account the implementation of the mitigation measures described in the Comprehensive Study Report for the Project and the Addendum Report for the Nass River Bridge. My Environmental Assessment Decision Statement also identifies the follow-up program that will have to be implemented.

Assessment of effects referred to in Chapter 10, paragraph 8(e) of the Nisga'a Final Agreement

In accordance with Chapter 10, paragraph 8(e) of the Nisga'a Final Agreement, I have determined that the Project can reasonably be expected to result in adverse, but not significant, environmental effects on residents of Nisga'a Lands, Nisga'a Lands or Nisga'a interests related to fisheries, wildlife, migratory birds and forest resources. I have established the recommendations below to prevent or mitigate these environmental effects and to verify the effectiveness of such measures.

  1. The proponent should be required to implement the mitigation measures and follow-up program requirements identified in the Comprehensive Study Report and Addendum Report.
  2. The proponent should be required to prepare and implement a Fish Habitat Compensation Plan referenced in the Comprehensive Study Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and for approval by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This plan will include measures to offset losses of fish bearing habitat anticipated in the inlet tributaries of Lake 901.
  3. The proponent should be required to prepare and implement a Wetland Habitat Compensation Plan referenced in the Comprehensive Study Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to the satisfaction of Environment Canada and other appropriate regulatory authorities. This plan will include measures to address no net-loss of wetland function resulting from the development of the tailings management facility on red- and blue-listed wetland communities and their functions.
  4. The proponent should be required to complete actions to refine the Human Health Risk Assessment, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and Health Canada, as referenced in the Agency's April 30, 2014 letter to the proponent.
  5. The proponent should be required to implement the Kitsault Project Water Treatment Implementation Plan for the construction phase of the Project, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to satisfy Government of British Columbia requirements.
  6. The proponent should be required to implement the following provisions described in the Comprehensive Study Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to satisfy Government of British Columbia requirements:
    1. Design, construct and operate the Project to meet British Columbia Water Quality Guidelines or Site Specific Water Quality Objectives approved by the Government of British Columbia at LC1, LC2 and Lake 901 during the operations, closure and post-closure phases of the Kitsault Mine Project. Where required, Site Specific Water Quality Objectives will be developed by the proponent, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and for approval by the Government of British Columbia, prior to commencing the operations phase of the Project.
    2. Prevent the introduction of invasive species through measures such as minimizing soil exposure, re-vegetating areas that are inactive with invasive plant-free seed mix, and minimizing the transport of invasive plant seeds and plant parts by inspecting undercarriages of vehicles.
    3. Implement site reclamation through measures such as salvaging and stockpiling topsoil and organic material, and re-vegetating the land to a self-sustaining state using appropriate native plant species, including species used by members of the Nisga'a Nation.
  7. The proponent should be required to prepare and implement the following management plans and monitoring programs referenced in the Comprehensive Study Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to satisfy Government of British Columbia requirements:
    1. Mine Emergency and Spill Response Plan and Geographic Response Plan, including measures to address the potential risks of accidents or spills associated with road use, such as a fate and effects assessment for hazardous and bulk materials that pose a risk to the environment or public safety.
    2. Mine Site Water Management Plan, including measures for water treatment, erosion and seepage control, water recycling and diversion during operations, closure and post-closure.
    3. Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program and Marine Environment Monitoring Program, including measures to monitor project-related effects on the freshwater environment, marine environment, and human health, as well as adaptive management strategies to address any unanticipated adverse effects.
    4. Wildlife Corridor Management Plan, including measures to minimize vehicle-wildlife collisions and reduce the potential effect of increased winter access along the Nass Forest Service Road, such as snow removal protocols, line of sight improvements and moose reporting requirements, and including participation in government and industry initiatives to support the recovery of the Nass moose population and address cumulative effects related to traffic along the Highway 37 and 113 corridors.
  8. The proponent should be required to implement the following management plans referenced in the Addendum Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to satisfy Government of British Columbia requirements:
    1. Environmental Management Plan for the Nass River Bridge, including the inspection of the bridge by a qualified professional, prior to construction, to ensure that birds or bats are not using the existing structure for habitat. The results of the bridge inspection will be provided to Environment Canada for review and comment. Any resulting adjustments to work procedures and mitigation measures as part of the follow-up program will be documented and communicated to the Nisga'a Nation.
    2. Spill Response Plan as part of the Environmental Management Plan for the Nass River Bridge, including the immediate notification of the Nisga'a Nation of any spill that meets reportable levels set out in the Spill Reporting Regulation under the Environmental Management Act (British Columbia). Any resulting adjustments to work procedures and mitigation measures as part of the follow-up program will be communicated to the Nisga'a Nation.
  9. The proponent should be required to implement the following provisions described in the Addendum Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to satisfy Government of British Columbia requirements:
    1. Ensure that the construction of the new Nass River Bridge takes place during fall and winter, at a time when bats use hibernacula areas away from the Bridge, and outside of the bird breeding window (May through July) and Kwinageese Sockeye closure window (mid-summer).
    2. Conduct a timber cruise prior to clearing the work area for the Nass River Bridge, and provide the results to the Nisga'a Nation. The end use of felled trees, tree by-products and cleared vegetation will be determined in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation. If requested by the Nisga'a Nation, the proponent will transport merchantable felled trees to any road-accessible location on Nisga'a Lands selected by the Nisga'a Nation.

Assessment of effects referred to in Chapter 10, paragraph 8(f) of the Nisga'a Final Agreement

In accordance with Chapter 10, paragraph 8(f) of the Nisga'a Final Agreement, I have determined that the Project may result in both adverse and positive effects on the existing and future social and cultural well-being of Nisga'a citizens, and contribute to modest improvements in their existing and future economic well-being. I have established the recommendations set out below in relation to these matters.

  1. The proponent should be required to prepare and implement the following management plans referenced in the Comprehensive Study Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to satisfy Government of British Columbia requirements:
    1. Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Management Plan, including protocols to protect any archaeological and cultural heritage resources that are discovered within the Project footprint during construction and operations.
    2. Economic, Social and Cultural Management Plans, including measures to accommodate the inability of Nisga'a citizens to carry out activities specified in the Nisga'a Final Agreement in those portions of the Nass Area and Nass Wildlife Area restricted for active mining during the life of the Project, support for Nisga'a business opportunities and strategies, and the development of a Nisga'a Nation-focused recruitment, training and employment plan.
  2. The proponent should be required to implement the following provisions described in the Comprehensive Study Report and Addendum Report, in consultation with the Nisga'a Nation and to satisfy Government of British Columbia requirements:
    1. Where public access to roads and rights of way is restricted as a result of mine-related activities, provide alternative access that enables Nisga'a citizens to access Nisga'a Lands and exercise their Treaty rights.
    2. While the Nass River Bridge is being replaced, upgrade, maintain and conduct winter clearing of the alternate route along the Arbor Forest Service Road.

Recommendation under Chapter 10, paragraph 8(h) of the Nisga'a Final Agreement

In accordance with Chapter 10, paragraph 8(h) of the Nisga'a Final Agreement, and considering the Comprehensive Study Report and Addendum Report, I recommend to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada that the Project should proceed, and that the responsible authorities should take into account the recommendations set out in this document when exercising their decision-making authorities in relation to the Project.

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