In the spring of 1998, United Industrial Services Ltd. obtained approval under the Public Lands Act to construct and operate a pilot-scale facility to process silica (quartz) sand from its 91 ha Mineral Surface Lease 10 km north of the town of Peace River. The approval allowed the company to extract and process silica sand to a maximum of 45,000 tonnes per annum. A plant was constructed and operations began that summer. The silica mine and processing facility was operated by Alberta Silica Corporation, (ASC) a wholly-owned subsidiary.
The company decided it wanted to process more than the 45,000 tonnes per annum allowed under its approval. The Environmental Assessment Regulation (AR 112/93) of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) requires a mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment Report for mines processing greater amounts.
Environmental Impact Assessment
Alberta Environment (AENV) issued Final Terms of Reference for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on July 30, 1999. Federal involvement in the EIA review was not declared. UIS submitted its EIA and NRCB application in November, 1999. On March 07, 2000, the NRCB received a letter from AENV confirming the EIA report was complete.
Natural Resources Conservation Board Review
The NRCB considered the social, economic and environmental effects of the proposed project to determine whether it was in the public interest. On May 19, 2000, the Board approved the project. The Board issued its approval on July 6, 2000, having received Cabinet authorization by Order-in-Council 251/2000 dated June 28, 2000.
Subsequently, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development assigned the Mineral Surface Lease to Contractors Leasing Corporation when UIS was unable to continue with their project. The new leaseholders have an interim approval until March 31, 2003, which does not allow mining until an approval under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act is received.
The NRCB will monitor the implementation of conditions attached to its approval.
For more information, please contact either the NRCB at(780) 422-1977. Alberta residents may use the RITE line (310-0000 then 422-1977) to avoid long distance charges.