New Brunswick government OK’s environmental assessment report for proposed Sissons mine

It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that I was putting the finishing touches on a story about Northcliff Resources Ltd.’s proposed open-pit tungsten-molybdenum mine north of Fredericton, N.B.

Of course, it’s been almost a year-and-a-half since the story was published. But since the story hit the public domain, I’ve often wondered when the Vancouver-based company was going to hear back from the New Brunswick government on an environmental assessment report it had filed for the Sissons mine back in 2013.

Well, it finally has heard back from the government, and CBC reports the government has accepted the assessment. That means the government considers the EIA to be acceptable for public consultation.

According to the CBC, the government says it will issue a consultation schedule within 30 days of receiving a revised assessment report from Northcliff.

The mine is still a long way from receiving regulatory approval, but Northcliff’s president and CEO deemed the government’s move a significant step nonetheless.

“We look forward to the public consultation period as it marks one of the final steps in the provincial EIA process,” Chris Zahovskis says in a March 2nd press release. “It will give the public an opportunity to review our comprehensive plans to build and operate an environmentally sound and socially responsible project that will provide significant benefits in the Province of New Brunswick.”

The company says the mine would have a life of 27 years and employ 300 people annually. Those numbers should be welcome in a province where jobs aren’t easy to come by.

But the promise of jobs isn’t enough to convince everyone that the mine is a good idea, and some groups are chomping at the bit to question Northcliff, and the New Brunswick government, about the plan to build a massive open-pit mine in the province.

One of them is the St. Mary’s First Nation, which is concerned that the proposed mine will impact on its ability to hunt and fish in the area, which it says is Maliseet territory. The First Nation also says the provincial government has not been meeting its duty to consult obligations regarding the Sissons mine.

There are other hurdles for Northcliff to overcome to get this mine in operation – like where it is going to get the $579 million it says it will cost to build the mine.

But of all the obstacles facing the company, First Nation opposition to its project is the one it needs to solve, and quickly, if the Sissons mine has any chance of becoming a reality.

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