Vale holds open houses on EIS for potash mine – by Regina Leader Post (July 19, 2013)

Vale Potash Canada held open house information meetings to discuss the environmental impact statement (EIS) for its proposed Kronau potash mine in Kronau, about 30 km southeast of Regina, on Wednesday and nearby White City on Thursday.

While the Brazilian mining giant’s proposed potash solution mine project was put on hold last August, there’s still considerable interest in the $3-billion project and its potential environmental impact on the area, according to a spokesperson for Vale Potash Canada.

“What we’re trying to get across to people is that if the Kronau project proceeds … the commitments attached to the EIS still apply,” said Lara Ludwig, community relations lead for Vale Potash Canada. About 170 people attended the Kronau session, which was similar to the crowd at the first public information meetings on the Kronau project in 2011, Ludwig said.

“A lot of people had questions about how the internal option analysis is going and what the status (of the project) is. From our perspective, … it was a good opportunity to reconnect and answer any questions.”

Last August, the giant mining company decided to temporarily suspend further work on the 2.9-million tonne per year project due to the tough global economy, although work on the EIS and finding a secure water source for the mine continued.

Ludwig said the open house was set up to allow residents to voice any concerns they have about the project.

The EIS runs to more than 3,000 pages and takes up four binders covering everything from the solution mining process and water usage to salt tailings and air quality and noise levels.

“Top of mind concerns are regarding traffic impacts and minimizing disruption during construction,” Ludwig said. “We’ve had several meetings with the RM. They’re quite concerned about the roads and those types of effects.”

Another concern is waste water and tailings disposal, which Vale plans to minimize by injecting the waste water into deep geological formations 2,200 metres below the surface, while a dike will be built around the salt tailings pile to reduce contact with the surrounding farmland.

The Water Security Agency will control the 21 million cubic metres per year of water required by the project, which will be pumped and pipelined from Buffalo Pound Lake by SaskWater.

Fortunately, a 34-page executive summary is available for residents to peruse. “It’s a good introduction,” she said.

In fact, the information meetings aren’t really meetings at all, but informal sessions where people can ask questions at any of the 10 stations in community centre or curling rink where the open houses are held.

“It’s like a jacked-up science fair.”

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