Vanguard One project achieves environmental assessment milestone
Gensource Potash Corporation has announced that it has received the Ministerial determination of “not a development” from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment for the Vanguard One project.
As a result of the Determination, Gensource is not required to complete a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), since it has been recognised that the Project has a number of positive environmental attributes that will not trigger the stringent criteria of the Saskatchewan Environmental Assessment Act and, consequently, the Project is unlikely to have a significant impact on the environment. This notification officially confirms that the Project can now proceed to the next stage of the environmental regulatory process: detailed construction licensing.
Mike Ferguson, Gensource’s President and CEO stated that “a Ministerial Determination of ‘not a development’ is a fantastic outcome for Gensource and our Vanguard One project and is exactly what the team was working towards. It is a decision that we anticipated due to the fact that our approach to potash mining is radically different from traditional potash projects – Vanguard One will be much more environmentally friendly with no salt tailings and no brine ponds of any sort. This Determination not only confirms one of our core values as a company - to provide a cleaner source of potash production - but it is also a crucial element to our Project success, as it enables a much faster, more efficient and cost-effective overall project development timeline.”
According to the MOE, “An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a results-based process used by the Government of Saskatchewan to understand and evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a project before any irreversible decisions are taken that may lead to negative effects on the environment, natural resources or public health and safety.” As per the Environmental Assessment Act (the “Act”), proponents are to evaluate and self-assess as to whether or not their proposed project is likely to meet any of the specific criteria within the Act that would trigger a full environmental impact assessment, and whether a review under the Act is warranted.
Based on the technology, size, and environmental implications of the Project, the Gensource team strongly believed that the Project should not be classified as a “development” under the Act. On that basis, Gensource engaged Golder Associates Ltd. (Golder) to prepare a Technical Proposal for the Vanguard One project, which was submitted in June 2017 to the Environmental Assessment and Stewardship (EAS) Branch of the MOE, for review and determination. As part of the Technical Proposal, potential effects of the Project on the local environment were assessed. Further work was completed to address additional information requests from the EAS Branch over the course of the review period.
Subsequently, on 8th August 2018, Gensource received official communication from the Government of Saskatchewan confirming that, indeed, the Project was not classified as a “development”, since the Project is unlikely to cause significant adverse residual effects on the environment. For more information about the Saskatchewan Environmental Assessment process, you can visit: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/business/environmental-protection-andsustainability/environmental-assessment/environmental-assessment-process
The Vanguard One project is not a conventional potash solution mine. The plant site footprint is approximately 300 m by 300 m (9 hectares or approx. 22 acres) and, compared to a conventional potash solution mine, it has a reduced impact on the environment through its lack of salt tailings, lack of brine-containing surface ponds, reduced impact to utilities and local infrastructure and reduced water consumption per tonne of product produced. These features are all enabled by Gensource’s innovative selective solution mining and enhanced potash recovery and process techniques.
The Project is designed to produce 250,000 tonnes per year of potassium chloride (KCl, or potash). In context, this is approximately 1/10th of the annual production of a typical potash mine in Saskatchewan – a feat accomplished while driving down operating costs per tonne to a globally competitive level.