ATIKOKAN, Ont. — The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has concluded that a proposed open-pit gold mine 23 kilometres northeast of Atikokan "is not likely" to cause significant adverse environmental effects.
It's the key finding in CEAA's Comprehensive Study Report on the Hammond Reef gold project at Mitta Lake, a small lake which would be drained for the development of the mine.
The report was made public on Monday as the agency announced a 30-day period of public comment on the review.
Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. proposes to develop the mine as well as an onsite metal mill, producing up to 60,000 tonnes a day of ore for a period of 11 years.
Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown said in a December 2017 Tbnewswatch story about the project that the population of the town had fallen to 2,800 from a peak of over 6,000 when local iron mines were operating.
"We need more people. We still have the same amount of amenities and infrastructure to operate. It would be great if we could get some more people working here," he said.
According to the CEAA's study, the mine's effects on the atmosphere, water resources, fish and fish habitat, and wildlife and terrestrial habitats "would be localized and mitigated by the proponent pursuant to federal and provincial requirements."
However, the report recommends a federal follow-up program, if the project goes ahead, to verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment predictions.
The agency also determined that "effects on human health, socio-economic conditions, current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal persons, and physical and cultural heritage resources" would be minimized by mitigation measures.
In its announcement Monday, CEAA said it was inviting the public and Indigenous groups to comment on the findings by Aug. 30.
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change will then consider the report together with the feedback.
The project must also meet environmental assessment requirements for Ontario.
Mining in the vicinity dates back to the 1890s and the 1930s, followed by periodic exploration activity by various companies over several decades.