Weeks of public hearings began Monday in Steinbach at Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission, as a mining corporation tries to get the necessary approval for a massive silica project near Vivian, Man.
SIO Silica Corporation says it wants to take advantage of the province’s large quartz deposit to mine a mineral crucial for everyday items like batteries, cellphone glass and more.
Many area residents have expressed their concerns about the proposal, despite assurances by the company that the mining process won’t be disruptive and that the project would create thousands of jobs in the region.
Walter Mendela, who lives nearby, told 680 CJOB at the hearing that he has concerns about water quality, as well as the potential effect the project would have on property values.
“If we invest $300,000-plus to build a brand-new home here,” he said, “I don’t think, without a well, we would have any value to recover our cost.”
Those concerns are shared by Krista Boryskavich, who is part of a group that represents residents of eight surrounding municipalities, and says there’s no indication of how the project might affect the region’s water supply.
“It’s critical, from the municipalities’ perspective, that the impacts of this project are examined … not just within the first four- or five-year period, but within the lifetime of the project,” she said.
The company’s COO, Brent Bullen, however, says the project would have a positive impact toward advancing Canada’s carbon-neutral goals, while leaving the environment largely unaffected.
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“We don’t see at all a contamination event happening,” Bullen said.
“We don’t believe we contribute to a contamination event, and through the work that we’ve done, we’ve not seen any indication of a contamination event.”
Bullen said SIO Silica uses a new process that is easy on the ecosystem.
“There’s no scarring of the earth, there’s no surface mining, there’s no surface leaching,” he said.
“There’s nothing that’s associated with conventional strip mining.”
The commission’s hearings, which are open to the public, run until mid-March, with sessions planned for Steinbach as well as Beausejour, Man.