Fortune Minerals Decision is Critical to Saskatchewan’s Economic Future

Fortune Minerals Decision is Critical to Saskatchewan’s Economic Future
June 26, 2014


In February 2014, Fortune Minerals was given Ministerial Approval by Saskatchewan’s Minister of Environment, to build a minerals processing plant near Langham, SK. However, since that time, environmental groups have been posing unregulated questions – sometimes hurling inaccurate claims at the project ranging from misguided to deceptive – which may lead to the project not proceeding.
The RM of Corman Park will soon be requested to grant rezoning approval to Fortune Minerals for the plant to be built – by a vote of the councillors – and should the environmentalists have their way, this will not happen. And given the councillors answer to their constituents and the constituents have been fed a barrage of misinformation by those same environmentalists, the vote may not support Fortune Minerals.
The council vote could – in effect – overrule the Provincial permitting process.
Fortune Minerals might then be forced to seek another location, and worse yet, potentially be forced to redo some or all of the environmental permitting process for the new site – and once again – with no guarantee of success after permitting. The resulting delay and additional permitting costs would not be good for the company and reflect poorly on our permitting process.
More importantly, in the bigger picture, should this refusal happen, other potential developers will become skeptical when considering Saskatoon or even Saskatchewan.
Fortune Minerals was at least wooed if not recruited to locate near Saskatoon, and those who did this work are now nowhere to be seen the face of controversy. Our provincial government granted an environmental approval, but when that study and report used to grant it are called into question at open-house/community events, the government is not there to stand behind its assessment.
If the complaints were mainly about interrupted sightlines, dust, or noise from neighboring landowners; I would support their complaints and Fortune Minerals would agreed to plant trees and the like as necessary.
However, the complaints are about potential environmental impacts stemming from waste residue, water table contamination, water table disruption, plus arsenic and cyanide related issues. All of these have been mitigated and approved by the Environmental Assessment process and reflected/confirmed in the Environmental approval. This regulated set of questions and subsequent answers – with timelines and independent scientific, coupled with economic and social, thought – reviewed the project from numerous perspectives.
The proposed Fortune Minerals processing facility, went through a 3 and a half year permitting process – seeing 2,362 pages of studies and document’s submitted to Government, with 2 public comment periods within it. These were to address 7 different sets of Government Acts and Regulations.
Environmental permits are not rushed to develop more business in our province. Frankly, we have labour shortage, and government is not in a hurry to add to it. And, a company has to deposit the money to clean-up the project as it’s developed.
Why is Fortune Minerals being somewhat forced to do the approval work again, sometimes for persons with agendas such as making a living or elevating their position via environmental activism? There were two public review periods within the permitting process, with the second being extended beyond the norm to allow ample time for public comment. Those persons’ interests should have value within the permitting process, not afterwards.
This issue points towards a larger trend of companies now needing Anthropologists and Psychologists to move projects ahead, rather than economists and scientists. Project approvals have changed from requiring a majority or regulated approval, to requiring consensus from all those near and even miles or even oceans away.
This new “consensus” approval model is also reflected in the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipeline approvals.
In this new consensus model era, building a cross-Canada railroad – the very item credited largely with unifying our country – would be impossible, given the string of land ownership and potential ‘environmentally-tagged’ issues.
Many projects are now called into a secondary set of unregulated questions, potentially stopping all project developments in the province. If this becomes a trend, it will eventually deter new projects from a province, where the regulatory system can be overruled by interest groups. Those groups’ interests should have value within the permitting process, not afterwards. And, if these secondary approval programs continue, the regulators should be there to assist the proponents as an independent and qualified witness.
If the Fortune Minerals project is rejected – after having been welcomed to the province and then receiving an environmental approval – something is wrong with our system.
The Fortune Minerals rezoning approval decision by the RM of Corman Park, thus becomes critical to Saskatchewan’s economic future.


Eric Anderson,
Prosperity Saskatchewan

About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on June 26, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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