The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada Steven Guilbeault announced the Government of Canada's decision to approve the Marathon Palladium Project following an environmental assessment conducted by an independent Joint Review Panel (JRP).
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The Marathon Palladium Project, a proposed palladium mine located 10 kilometres from Marathon, Ontario, and along the shores of the Biigtig Zibi (Pic River) nine kilometres north of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg's reserve, will strengthen Canada's position as a global leader in the responsible and sustainable production of critical minerals, consistent with the Government of Canada's Critical Minerals Strategy.
Platinum group metals (including palladium, platinum and rhodium) are essential metals in the manufacturing of automotive catalytic convertors, which reduce harmful vehicle emissions.
Copper, which would also be produced by the project, is a critical mineral for electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure, and for the growth of renewable energy infrastructure.
The project represents significant economic opportunities for Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and will help improve the economic prosperity of the region.
It is expected to create between 430 and 550 full-time jobs for the local workforce during the construction phase and 430 jobs during its operation, according to the proponent.
The proponent has committed to hiring 25 percent of the project workforce (about 100 workers) from within Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and to exclusive contracting opportunities with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg owned and operated companies.
The Decision Statement issued by the Minister sets out 269 legally-binding conditions to protect the environment, including mitigation measures and follow-up program requirements.
Generation PGM Inc. (the proponent) must comply with these conditions throughout the life of the project.
The conditions include measures to address adverse effects of the project on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Indigenous peoples, physical and cultural heritage and the health and socio-economic conditions of Indigenous peoples, as well as fish and fish habitat, migratory birds and species at risk, such as woodland caribou.
Numerous conditions include clear requirements to consult Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, including some that reference the need to "seek consensus".
This includes, for example, plans to divert the water discharge away from the Biigtig Zibi (Pic River), if technically and economically feasible, which is a culturally significant waterway for local Indigenous peoples.
The Decision Statement also requires the proponent to develop and implement a reclamation plan for restoring the project footprint once operations have ended and the mine has been decommissioned.
A total of seven Indigenous groups actively participated in the environmental assessment process, including the public hearing, and informed the JRP Report. The proponent can now proceed with obtaining any additional authorizations and permits from federal departments.
This includes an approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Fisheries Act, from Natural Resources Canada under the Explosives Act, and Environment and Climate Change Canada under the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations. ■