The government of Saskatchewan has given a green light to the environmental assessment for a proposed Yancoal potash mine near Southey, Saskatchewan. The 3,000-page impact report includes more than 800 submissions of public feedback and it was prepared by the Chinese government-owned Yancoal and reviewed by a Saskatchewan government panel. The Yancoal team reviewed potential concerns including local infrastructure, impact on ground water and air quality monitoring. In order to move forward, Yancoal must now meet a few conditions such as creating a community involvement plan, forming a community advisory committee and isolating the sire from nearby waterways “to ensure no off-site impacts to water quality,” the government said in a news release.
Environment Minister Herb Cox said that a conditional approval has been granted. “All of the work done by our very creditable and experienced professionals, as well as the public comments we have received, have led us to be confident this is the right move to go forward,” he said and reassured taxpayers that they would not have to cover the bill if something goes wrong. “One of the conditions of this approval will be that they provide financial assurance to the provincial government so that no taxpayer from this province will be required to put any money into any cleanup for the decommissioning or reclamation when this project wraps up,” he said.
The mine will use 11-12 million cubic meters of water per year from the Buffalo Pound when operational but the company assured both the authorities and the public that the amount would decrease once operations are stable. The project still does not have a full approval but Yancoal has already started applying for needed licenses and permits. If the project goes ahead successfully as planned, it will be the fifth potash mine approved by the government in recent years.