Land and Water
Full Life Cycle of Mine Planning, Operation and Closure
Modern mining is not simply a process of mineral removal; rather it involves continuous reclamation, meaning that as we advance to the next phase, we begin to reclaim the recently mined phase. Reclamation involves re-contouring, re-vegetation, and re-forestation.
Re-contouring: Beginning once a mine phase has been completed; recontouring involves placing rock from the next phase into the void created by the previous phase. Re-contouring can be tailored to support future public access, wetlands and waterbodies, all while providing suitable terrain for any number of wildlife species.
Re-vegetation to natural grassland: Re-vegetation can be tailored to provide any desired amount of natural grassland area to support future land use objectives.
Re-forestation: Targeted re-forestation can be used to ensure and support a thriving population of sensitive species such as white bark pine and limber pine. Re-forestation can also be tailored to provide any desired level of forestation to support future land use objectives.
Full cycle mining starts with strict adherence to all environmental regulations, and it ends exactly the same way. We are obligated to return the mine area to a land use that is compatible with current land use so that:
- future generations of outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy access to recreational opportunities
- future generations of trappers and ranchers can enjoy enhanced access to re-vegetated and re-forested habitat; and
- future generations of Indigenous peoples can continue to exercise their Treaty Rights and support the stewardship of public lands in the region.
Alberta Environment and Parks has been clear that water allocations within the Oldman River have not changed nor will any new allocations be granted to mining projects. Any water that may be sourced by a proposed mine under an existing allocation will continue to be subject to Alberta’s priority system for water use, meaning such a diversion would receive a lower priority than existing users.
The priority system ensures existing water users such as municipalities, ranchers and farmers will maintain the priority of their licenses and always have access to their water allocation.
Full Life Cycle of Water Quality Management
Selenium is often referred to when discussing water quality. Selenium is a naturally occurring, non-metallic mineral that is found in rocks, soils and water. It is naturally released into watercourses when rocks and soils containing selenium are exposed to runoff and/or precipitation. If this water is not treated, higher concentrations of selenium can be experienced. Lack of capture and treatment of selenium enriched waters is what has created the issues that have been observed with older mining practices.
We take the conservation of natural water sources very seriously. We will maintain selenium and nitrates at their natural levels in water sources and will never release untreated water.
Through the life of our proposed project, we will work closely with regulators to ensure that any discharge of treated water meets the stringent parameters established by both provincial and federal authorities. We accomplish this through mine planning as well as by using both passive and active treatment processes.
Mine planning plays a key role in meeting water quality objectives. Specifically, overburden with higher potential to release selenium is strategically segregated where possible to minimize contact with precipitation.
Passive, in-situ treatment processes create environments that convert dissolved selenium into its solid mineral form where it attaches to the waste rock and remains buried indefinitely in the final rehabilitated landform.
Active treatment processes use established water treatment processes to ensure any residual selenium is below legislated water quality guidelines prior to release.
Our Vision for Reclamation
Our mine planning starts with a view to the end land use in mind. We welcome comments on final landform, re-vegetation and re-forestation so that we can plan for a final, multi-use area that will meet the future needs of the entire community.
Our approach is similar to that of other resource projects, such as forestry, where the intermediate reclamation steps will take a little time to take hold before the natural landscape can be enjoyed as it was prior to our activity.
Our initial vision for reclamation involves re-contouring to ensure similar topography, forage vegetation to support wildlife and cattle grazing, reforestation that includes stands of sensitive species such as White Bark and Limber pines, and a wetland or lake that would support aquatic life.