The Canadian Government has adopted the most stringent environmental safty and cleanliness standard in mining all over the world to ensure the open, fair and impartial environmental assessment. Investments regarding environmental protection in mining projects mainly include preliminary environmental assessment, environmental protection measures and mine site recovery.
New potash projects in Saskatchewan are required to conduct environmental assessments to evaluate potential natural environment and social impact, to prevent and reduce negative impact on the environment (ecological, social, economic and cultural) by projects. When the project may have a direct or indirect impact on Aboriginal people, cultural impact must be taken into account.
EAA-Environment Assessment Act (Saskatchewan provincial Government, 2002) applies to environmental assessment of Saskatchewan potash exploration and development. The environmental assessment is conducted by Saskatchewan Environment Assessment Branch (SEAB) under Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment (MOE).
The environmental assessment is organized in the following ten steps:
1. Coduct Enviromental Baseline Studies;
2. Prepared and submit Project Proposal to SEAB to determine if an environment assessment is required;
3. Determine project environmental assessment scope, define environmental assessment content and report scope (30 days);
4. Advise the environmental draft guildelines on the newspaper in accordance with requirements of Saskatchewan environmental assessment Section 10 Order;
5. Collect public comments on the environmental draft guidelines;
6. Obtain finalized environmental aseessment scope by SEAB;
7. Complete the Environment Impact Statement and submit to the regulators;
8. Conduct the technical review by regulators and the public (30-60 days);
9. Obtain the approval from the Minster of Environment;
10. Apply permits and license to move forward with the project, including the implementation ofmitigation measures and the follow-on monitoring program.
Although a large potash development project with annual output of potassium chloride more than 1 million tons, may need comprehensive examination (SOR/94-638) by CEEA-Canadian Environment Assessment Act (Canada Federal Government, 1992). To avoid redundance, at present, all potash exploration and development projects are only required to provide an Environment Impact Statement to the Provincial Government of Saskatchewan. Other Federal laws, such as Navigable Waters Protection Act, Species at Risk Act, and Migratory Birds Convention Act also need to be considered if applicable.