REGINA – Agriculture is big business for Earl Grey, Sask. and Southey, Sask. so it’s no surprise many questions about Yancoals’ proposed potash mine revolve around environmental concerns.
Specifically, any impact on the communities’ water supply and abundance of waste salt.
“We have land immediately around where the salt pile will be and we’re concerned about how that’ll impact the land’s productivity into the future and our profitability as a farming operation as well,” said Jessica Nixon, a member of the Havelock Special Projects Committee (HSPC).
The HSPC hosted an information night on the proposed mine in Earl Grey on Wednesday. Canada Research Chair on Climate Change at the University of Regina Peter Leavitt, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Economy, shared information on the mine’s potential impacts.
At the conclusion of the two hour meeting, local landowner Brent Johnson still has questions about what the mine means to the area.
The Chinese-based Yancoal says these concerns will be addressed in the upcoming environmental impact statement (EIS). Once it’s made public, there will be a 30-day comment period, which Johnson said is too short.
“We heard tonight that the [rural municipality] has these four, six-inch thick binders that are a draft of the environmental impact statement. so we very much want it extended to 60 days,” he explained.
Johnson said the community hopes the EIS is released after the election, so they can apply for the extension with whoever is the environment minister.
Yancoal held public consultation sessions in March and July 2015 as part of their application process. Now they are making an effort to address concerns more directly. The company opened an office in Earl Grey in December. It also hired public and community relations co-ordinator, Robin Kusch.
“We’re encouraging people to come in and talk to us. Just sit down and express your concerns and we can directly one on one so they feel comfortable and satisfied,” said Kusch.
She added that the office is open three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday), and she usually meets with four to six people a day.
The proposed mine site is right around the junction of Highway 6 and Range Road 731.
Some landowners, including Nixon, have yet to sell the company land for the proposed mine site, saying they don’t have enough information yet.
Yancoal says the construction process will be 36 months, and they hope to be operational in 2020.