PROJECT AGREEMENT FOR THE ALEY MINE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

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PREAMBLE

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) has commenced an environmental assessment (EA) pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) for Aley Corporation Limited’s (the Proponent) the Aley Mine (the Project).

The proposed project consists of the construction and operation of an open-pit niobium mine, located approximately 130 kilometres north of Mackenzie in north-central British Columbia. As proposed, the project would process ten thousand metric tonnes of niobium ore per day, for a total of 94 million tonnes of ore over a mine-life of 27 years.

The Minister of the Environment (the Minister) has approved British Columbia’s request to substitute the EA process by the CEA Agency pursuant to CEAA 2012 with the EA process under the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act. British Columbia will undertake the substituted EA in accordance with the process set out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) on the Substitution of Environmental Assessments (2013) (the MOU).

Following the submission of an EA report and Aboriginal consultation record by British Columbia, the CEA Agency will provide its advice to the Minister on his or her EA decision and the issuance of an EA decision statement, including enforceable conditions, should the project proceed.

Nothing in this Project Agreement (the Agreement) fetters the powers, statutory authorities and functions of federal departments/agencies and their respective Ministers.

The signatories to this Agreement (the Parties) commit to work together to facilitate an effective, accountable, transparent, timely and predictable federal review in relation to the proposed project and to contribute to fulfilling the Crown’s duty to consult Aboriginal groups.

1.0 PURPOSE

The purpose of this document is to provide information pertaining to the engagement of the CEA Agency, federal authorities and federal regulators with respect to a substituted EA. For further information regarding the federal review process, please refer to The Federal Review Process for Major Projects: Project Agreement Companion Document (the Companion Document).

2.0 ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The following federal departments and agencies have identified an interest in the Project, and will participate in the federal review:

  • Responsible authority: The CEA Agency will maintain a liaison role with the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) during the conduct of the environmental assessment and will ensure that an EA Decision Statement is issued;
  • Federal authorities (FAs): Transport Canada (TC), Health Canada (HC), Environment Canada (EC), and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) may be in possession of specialist or expert information or knowledge with respect to the Project and will, if requested by the British Columbia EAO, make that information or knowledge available in support of the examination of the environmental effects of the Project;
  • The EAO Project Lead and the CEA Agency Liaison will work together to identify federal departments in possession of specialist or expert information or knowledge with respect to the proposed project as it relates to their respective mandates and contacts within those departments to identify representatives to participate in the environmental assessment working group; 
  • Regulatory departments: EC, TC and NRCanmay have regulatory and statutory duties in relation to the Project;
  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has advisory responsibilities in relation to the Project to support consistency with the Government of Canada’s Whole of Government approach to Aboriginal consultation activities; and,
  • The Major Projects Management Office (MPMO) will engage with federal regulators during the EA process, with a particular focus following the submission of the EA Report to the CEA Agency by the Province through to the completion of the regulatory phase. The MPMO will ensure adherence to the service standards and roles and responsibilities of all Parties as described in the Agreement and the Companion Document.

3.0 Aboriginal Consultation

The Parties are committed to a Whole of Government approach to Aboriginal consultation that is integrated with the EA and regulatory process, to the extent possible. For more information on the Whole of Government approach, including roles and responsibilities of departments and agencies, as well as coordination during the project review, please refer to Annex I of the Companion Document.

During the substituted process, procedural aspects of Aboriginal consultation are delegated to the British Columbia EAO, including responsibility for gathering information from Aboriginal groups about the impact of the proposed project on their potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights and ways to prevent, mitigate or otherwise address those impacts as appropriate. Additional information on the procedural delegation requirements can be found in the Annex to the MOU.

Upon submission of the EA report and Aboriginal consultation record by the British Columbia EAO, the CEA Agency will undertake an assessment of the adequacy of the Aboriginal consultation to inform the Minister`s EA decision.

Where applicable, the terms and conditions of all existing agreements or protocols and/or MOUs between the Crown and Aboriginal groups will be respected.

4.0 TIMELINES

Timelines identified in the Agreement represent either the time elapsed that the Agency will report based on information provided by British Columbia or the time expected to be taken by federal departments and agencies in carrying out their respective tasks. The timelines do not account for time taken by the Proponent to collect information or undertake a study at the request of British Columbia (or the CEA Agency, when applicable) during the EA or regulatory departments during the regulatory phase. The target timelines for the federal review are as follows:

  1. Completion of the EA, as per CEAA 2012 – 365 days from the posting of the Notice of Commencement (NoC) on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry Internet Site (CEARIS) to the Minister’s EA Decision about whether the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.
  2. Regulatory decisions pursuant to the Navigation Protection Act – 90 days from the Minister’s EA Decision Statement posted on the CEARIS, assuming submission of all applications no later than the time of the submission of the Environmental Impact Statement, or equivalent provincial document.
  3. Regulatory decision pursuant to the Explosives Act – 1 month from the submission of a complete and acceptable application for an Explosives Factory Licence assuming the Minister’s EA Decision Statement has been posted on the CEARIS.
  4. Regulatory decision pursuant to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations – 8 months from the Minister’s EA Decision Statement posted on the CEARIS. The timeline will be reduced to 6 months if Treasury Board is satisfied that the Conditions for Exemption have been met (see the Companion Document for additional information).

5.0 SIGNATORIES

The Parties hereto have signed the Agreement, in counterpart, on the dates indicated below.

Annex I

Key Milestones and Service Standards for the Environmental Assessment and Aboriginal Consultation
  Milestone Lead Support As Needed Timeline/
Completion Date
1 Post the Notice of Commencement (NoC) on the CEARIS CEA Agency FAs November 24, 2014
2 Finalize Application Information Requirements EAO CEA Agency, FAs To be determined by the Province
3 Submit Application Proponent   To be determined by the Proponent
4 Provide draft EA Report EAO CEA Agency, FAs To be determined by the Province
5 Provide final EA Report EAO CEA Agency To be determined by the Province, no later than Day 305
6 Minister Makes EA Decision Minister CEA Agency, FAs Day 306-365 (60 Days)
7 Issue and Post the Minister’s EA Decision Statement on the CEARISFootnote 1 CEA Agency   Day 365 (0 Days)

Annex II

Gantt Chart: Target Timelines for the Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Phase

A Gantt chart that is a visual representation of the milestones and timelines in Annex I.

[Larger image - Gantt Chart: Target Timelines for the Regulatory Phase]