Province gives environmental approval to diamond mine project

Province gives environmental approval to diamond mine project

Saskatoon / 650 CKOM

Bryn Levy


October 25, 2018 02:34 pm


Workers do underground sampling at the site of the proposed Star-Orion South diamond mine, located about 65 km east of Prince Albert, Sask. (Star Diamond Corporation)

If you can wait a while to propose, there’s a chance you could be slipping a little piece of Saskatchewan onto that special someone’s finger.

The province announced Thursday a proposed diamond mine has cleared a years-long environmental assessment process.

If built, the Star-Orion South diamond mine would be located in the Fort à la Corne Forest, about 65 kilometres east of Prince Albert.

Eric Anderson, executive director of the Saskatchewan Mining and Industry Supply Association, said the lengthy environmental review was the last major hurdle for the project to clear on the government side.

“This is the big one. This was probably, to-date, one of the largest approvals (the province) would have required to get a mine built.”

In a media release issued Thursday, the province explained that Star Diamond Corporation will still need to secure a few more permits at the municipal and provincial levels, including a surface lease, a water rights licence and highway access permits.

Anderson said the next major step will be the company’s board signing off on starting construction.

He said he was confident the company would eventually proceed, given the advantages of the site compared to more remote locations.

“I mean, you’ve got a road there, you’ve got telephone, you’ve got grid power — you’re not having to fly in fuel to generate electricity. You’ve got employees there so you don’t have to build a camp. It’s quite a good thing and Prince Albert should do quite well out of this.”

If built, the province would stand to collect billions of dollars in royalties and taxes over the estimated 34-year life of the mine.

Mining giant Rio Tinto is also involved with the project, with a subsidiary of the company having secured an option to buy up to a 60 per cent stake for $75 million.

Anderson said Rio Tinto has made no secret about its ambitions to be in the diamond business, adding extra incentive for the project to eventually get the green light to be built.

“This is potentially a major, long-life supply that could last them for decades. So, I would say the odds are pretty good that it would go ahead.”

With Saskatchewan already a powerhouse in mining potash and uranium, Anderson said a diamond mine would help insulate the province’s economy from the ups-and-downs of those markets.

“You know, uranium is having some struggles right now. Potash is on a historical trend of normalcy, but this would be a great addition to the mix.”

Star-Orion South would employ about 700 people once built.

According to the province, the environmental assessment process led to a number of agreements with the nearby James Smith Cree Nation.

Those included:

  • A compensation plan for any fish habitat disturbed by the mine and a commitment to ongoing monitoring of air and water quality over the duration of the project’s life.
  • Funding for monitoring of moose and elk populations.
  • An agreement to provide training, jobs and business opportunities for people in James Smith and other local communities
  • A management plan for the Fort à la Corne Forest allowing for access to and protection of designated areas for treaty rights and traditional uses.


About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on October 25, 2018, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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