The Graphite Mine has received its Approvals and will be reopening soon.
Ontario Graphite, the new owners of the graphite mine near Kearney, have made applications for Environmental approvals governing the future re-opening of the Mine. Presently Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is reviewing these proposals. Interested individuals and groups may choose to review the applications and comment within the specified public comment period.
Public Information Session on the Re-Activation of the Kearney Graphite Mine and Development of a Closure Plan
1.0 KEARNEY GRAPHITE MINE RE-ACTIVATION
Ontario Graphite Limited (formerly iCarbon Canada) intends to re-start production at the Kearney Graphite Mine (the Mine) within the next two years. This Mine, which previously operated during the period from 1989 to 1994, has been in a state of temporary suspension since June 1994, and has had several ownership changes until the current firm took over the Mine in 2006. Ontario Graphite is a new Canadian, private sector mining company which is majority owned and financed by the Millennium Global Group, a highly respected, multi-billion dollar international venture funding organization. With the continuing development of advanced new uses for graphite, markets for this specialty material now are robust and growing, indicating a bright future for the re-activated Mine.
Under the Mining Act, in order to open a new mine or re-activate a suspended one in Ontario, it is necessary to present a Closure Plan to the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
(MNDM) showing how the Mine will be shut down at the end of mining operations, with due regard to the protection of the environment, the restoration of the mine site, and ensuring the interests of the Crown and the public are maintained. Such a Closure Plan is now being prepared. An important part of this plan will be ensuring that the public and First Nations in the area of the Mine are informed and consulted.
The re-activated Mine would produce flake graphite, a product found in pencils and the black powdery lubricant used as an alternative to oily lubricants. Higher grade graphite is also used in brake pads, batteries, fuel cells, and in advanced composites such as those for graphite-shafted golf clubs. In the Kearney area, certain local quartz rocks contain graphite (about 2 - 3% by weight) which appears as shiny flecks in the rock.
Mining at the Kearney Graphite Mine does not involve underground workings, but instead the removal of graphite-rich rock (ore) from a surface excavation called an Open Pit (see Photograph Top right). This pit, which has filled with water naturally during the temporary suspension, now resembles a small lake, the form that it will again revert to after closure.
The ore will be excavated from the dewatered Open Pit and trucked to the existing on-site processing facilities (the Mill) where it will be crushed to the consistency of sand. It then undergoes a series of flotation processes to float off the graphite flakes which will then be skimmed off, dried and bagged for sale. The Mill at the Mine is located on the shore of Graphite Lake and consists of several large buildings, the largest of which is the one in which the graphite separation from the ore occurs. Other buildings include shops, storage sheds and offices and there are bermed tanks for fuel oil and propane used at the Mill site as well. Refer to Photograph Top Left for a figure of the Mill in the background as well as the other buildings located around the Mine.
In addition to the production of graphite-containing ore, the mining process at the Mine will co-produce 3 to 4 times as much "waste rock"; which is non-ore-containing rock that is above and alongside the desired ore deposit that has to be removed to get to the ore. This waste rock will be taken from the Open Pit and deposited in an existing area, Waste Rock Area just south of the Open Pit (see Photograph Top right). During the earlier operating period, several million tons of waste rock were deposited in the Waste Rock Area and during the period of temporary suspension over the last 14 years, its surface has re-vegetated naturally with trees and other local vegetation without the addition of growth media or fertilizers. It is expected that this will continue to be the case for the expanded Waste Rock Area after closure.
As a result of the milling process, the bulk of the ore is reduced to "tailings", ground rock with most of the graphite removed. As they were during the earlier operating period, after the re-activation of the Mine, tailings, which have the consistency of, and look like, coarse sand, will be pumped as a water slurry into a containment area (the Tailings Area) in a long narrow valley south of the Mill (the reddish coloured area south of the Mill on Photograph Top right). Small amounts of process water, any water seeping into the Open Pit, and any seepage from the Mill area will be added to the tailings slurry.
The far south end of the Tailings Area is enclosed by a permeable rock-filled, Tailings Dam. Water contained in the slurried tailings will decant off into an impoundment known as the Tailings Pond behind the Tailings Dam, while the tailings will settle out. (On Photograph Top right, the Tailings Area with the Tailings Pond at its south end is clearly shown. The reddish-orange colour of the dry tailings above the Tailings Pond is due to the oxidation of iron compounds in the ground rock, a common feature in the Kearney area.) The Tailings Dam is designed to allow water from the Tailings Pond to slowly seep through it and flow to a small Polishing Pond located down slope to the south.
Although the tailings are relatively innocuous, they do contain small amounts of natural suphides from the ore, and these, when exposed to air may form acid rock drainage (ARD), which is acidic and contains dissolved metals such as iron and zinc. Some ARD has been generated at the Mine over the past 14 years, and water in the Polishing Pond is now being treated by Ontario Graphite with slaked lime to neutralize any acidic water and precipitate out any metals in it. Under normal conditions all of the water that reaches the Polishing Pond (Reclaim Water) will be pumped back to the Mill for re-use once the mining operation re-starts. Upon Mine re-activation, tailings generated during the milling process will be alkaline which will counterbalance any naturally-occurring acid generation in the Tailings Area.
If occasionally it becomes necessary to discharge water from the Polishing Pond (e.g., when a storm generates too much water to recycle), the release will be governed by an existing Certificate of Approval (C of A) issued to Ontario Graphite by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE). The C of A also defines monitoring requirements for waters from all parts of the Mine and in the lakes and streams around it.
After the Mine entered temporary suspension in 1994 and before Ontario Graphite took over ownership, there were concerns about acidic seepage in the area of Minnow Creek and about contaminated water from the Mill site entering Graphite Lake. Actions were taken in the past by the MOE, the MNDM, earlier owners and others to alleviate these concerns and resolve the problems which were causing them (e.g., a trench was constructed parallel to Graphite Lake to capture any surface or groundwater runoff from the Mill area and this water is now treated and diverted to the Tailings Area).
Ontario Graphite intends to re-activate the Mine and to operate it for several more years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will provide direct employment for about 70 people, indirect opportunities for about three times as many, and tax revenues for the local community. The Mine will produce a valuable product, bagged flake graphite, which will be transported to markets in closed trucks (these will run 3 - 4 times a day). The re-activated Mine will not produce hazardous materials, will generate no significant air pollution, and will not normally discharge water to the environment. Any water that might occasionally have to be discharged will be treated, if necessary, to meet C of A requirements.
After closure, the Mill and its buildings and tanks will be removed and recycled, and the area will be re-vegetated. The Waste Rock Area will be allowed to re-vegetate itself with local trees and bushes (as it
already has demonstrated it can do during temporary suspension). The Open Pit will be allowed to refill naturally becoming a deep lake, containing (as has been already demonstrated over the past 14 years) water of similar quality to other lakes in the area. The Tailings Pond will be drained and its water treated. The resulting dry Tailings Area will be covered with a layer of compost and other growth materials and re-vegetated with local trees and bushes. A constructed wetland system will be built to naturally treat any rainfall and snowmelt from the re-vegetated Tailings Area. In addition, a storm water wetland will be built to polish water from the hillsides above the Tailings Area and treated water from the constructed wetland.
It is envisioned that the site of the Kearney Graphite Mine will eventually re-naturalize allowing water quality of the area to return to background levels as it was before mining was carried out. The aerial photograph above is a depiction of what the Mine should look like after closure (see Bottom Photograph above).
REPORT NO. 1041560
REPORT TO Ontario Graphite Ltd.
2142 Forestry Tower Road P.O. Box 138 Kearney, Ontario POA1MO
FOR Ontario Graphite Ltd.
ON Project Description
Kearney Graphite Mine Re-Activation
September 29, 2008
Jacques Whitford Limited
7271 Warden Avenue
Phone: 905-474-7700 Fax: 905-479-9326
Jacques Whitford© 2003 project 1041560 September 29,2008
Public Information Presented
Who is Ontario Graphite?
Ontario Graphite Ltd., (Ontario Graphite) is a Canadian private sector mining company presently focused on developing the Kearney Graphite Mine (the Mine). Millennium Global, an international investment fund, is the controlling shareholder.
History of Kearney Graphite Mine
What is the Kearney Graphite Mine?
The Mine consists of an open pit mine and a milling facility and is located in the Town of Kearney, Ontario.
The property is located on Crown land and lies southeast of Graphite Lake. It is 4 km west of Algonquin Park.
The Site covers approximately 445 hectares. It is estimated that the Mill will process approximately one million tons of ore per year, once the Mine is re-activated.
It is estimated that the re-activated Mine will operate for a further seven years prior to closure.
A Closure Plan is being developed in accordance with Ontario Regulation 240/00 (as amended) promulgated under Part VII of the Mining Act.
This Closure Plan will show how the Mine will be shut down at
the end of operations with due regard to the protection of the environment,
the restoration of the Site, and ensuring the interests of the
Crown and the public are maintained.
Where is the Kearney Graphite Mine?
Why is there a Closure Plan
Why must Kearney Graphite Mine have a Closure Plan?
Under Ontario's Mining Act in order to open a new mine or re-activate a suspended one, it is necessary to present a Closure Plan to the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) showing how the Mine will be shut down at the end of mining operations. Such a Closure Plan is now being prepared. An important part of this plan will be ensuring that the public and First Nations in the area of the Mine are informed and consulted.
Considerations for the Closure Plan
The Closure Plan will determine how the state of the Mine will be progressively rehabilitated and eventually reclaimed under the various stages of Mine operation (e.g., operations, any future temporary suspension, a state of inactivity) or after closure.
An environmental monitoring program will be developed to assess the effectiveness of reclamation and mitigation measures proposed upon closure. Ontario Graphite is responsible for the Mine. This includes dealing with any environmental issues which may arise after closure.
The Closure Plan will include estimates of what it is expected to cost to carry out the reclamation and mitigation measures proposed on closure, as well as those for an ongoing monitoring program. The MNDM requires a financial assurance be set aside by Ontario Graphite equal to this amount to ensure that the Closure Plan can be completed once mining has ceased.
What will the mine look like after Closure
It is envisioned that the Mine will eventually go back
to nature with the water quality from the Site returning
to what it was before mining had been carried out.
Graphite and Its Uses
Socio-Economic Impacts of Mine Re-Activation
Environmental Initiatives and Commitments
Ontario Graphite Ltd.
We Want Your Feedback
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Part VII - Rehabilitation of Mining Lands
In Ontario, a mining company cannot recommence mining operations until a certified Closure Plan and associated Financial Assurance are in place. The requirements for a Closure Plan, including Financial Assurance, are set out in Part VII of the Mining Act and elaborated in Ontario Regulation 240/00 (Amended to Ontario Regulation 282/03) - Mine Development and Closure under Part VII of the Act.1
Mines that existed prior to 1991 when new legislation and regulation came into effect in Ontario have been required to prepare a Closure Plan and post Financial Assurance. Closure Plans are still outstanding (and being developed) for three existing, operating mines.
In planning for closure, there are four key objectives that must be considered:
Impacts that change conditions affecting these objectives are often broadly discussed as the 'impacts' or the environmental impacts of a site or a closure plan. It is convenient to consider potential impacts in four groupings:
Physical stability - buildings, structures, workings, pit slopes, underground openings etc. must be stable and not move so as to eliminate any hazard to the public health and safety or to prevent material erosion of the terrestrial or aquatic environment. Engineered structures must not deteriorate and fail.
Geochemical stability - minerals, metals and 'other' contaminants must be stable, that is, must not leach and/or migrate into the receiving environment at concentrations that are harmful. Weathering oxidation and leaching processes must not transport contaminants, in excessive concentrations, into the environment. Surface waters and groundwater must be protected against adverse environmental impacts resulting from mining and processing activities.
Land use - the closed mine site should be rehabilitated to pre-mining conditions or conditions that are compatible with the surrounding lands or achieve an agreed alternative productive land use. Generally the former requires the land to be aesthetically similar to the surroundings and capable of supporting a self-sustaining ecosystem typical of the area.
Sustainable development - elements of mine development that contribute to (impact) the sustainability of social and economic benefit, post mining, should be maintained and transferred to succeeding custodians.3
Where does Closure fit within the life of a mine?
A Closure Plan is required before a proponent starts advanced exploration. Even if the proponent doesn't plan to start mine production for a number of years, if any activities that the company is undertaking trigger a Closure Plan requirement, it must submit a Closure Plan, as required under the Mining Act. The Ontario Mining Act requires progressive rehabilitation throughout the life of the mine. The "active" stage of closure and rehabilitation requires 2-10 years, while monitoring to ensure the physical and chemical stability of the environment can last for decades, if not centuries. The Ontario Mining Association estimates the Life of a Mine as being:
Staking and Regional Surveys 1-2 years
Basic (Grassroots) Exploration 3-4 years
Advanced Exploration 5-10 years
Development and Production 20 years
Closure and Rehabilitation 2-10 years
Monitoring 5 -100 years
When is a Closure Plan prepared?
A mining company must prepare a Closure Plan before starting (or re-starting) advanced exploration or starting (or re-starting) mine production. "Advanced exploration" includes the following types of work:
What is the objective of a mine closure plan?
A Closure Plan describes measures, including protective measures, that the mining company takes during the entire life of the mine to rehabilitate the mine site. These rehabilitation measures aim to restore the site to its former use or condition or to make the site suitable for a use that the Director of Mine Rehabilitation determines. The Closure Plan includes a requirement that the company post a financial assurance to cover the costs of rehabilitation to protect the taxpayer in the event of a corporate default.
Does the community have any input into the Closure Plan?
Before starting (or restarting) advanced exploration or mine production, the Mining Company must publish a notice in a local newspaper and hold a public information session in the area where the project is located. The public notice includes a description of the project, indicating the nature, size and extent of related work to be carried out to complete the project. The company must address any questions raised by the public in the preparation of the final Closure Plan and provide the Director of Mine Rehabilitation with the names and comments from the public information session within 15 days of the event. The company must also report on any consultations carried out with aboriginal peoples affected by the project, including a description of their comments and responses.
Can the public comment on the final Closure Plan?
The mining company must submit eight - eleven copies of the Closure Plan to the Director of Mine Rehabilitation. A notice that the Director has received the Closure Plan is posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry (http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ebr/english/index.htm)4. The notice is in the form of a proposal that is subject to a public comment period. The website posting includes a brief description of the mining project, the main components of the Closure Plan and information about where the Closure Plan is available for public review. There is a specified comment period - often 30 days. The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines must make every reasonable step to ensure that all comments relevant to the proposal received as part of the public participation process are considered in making a decision. The decision to accept (or not) the Closure Plan is again posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry, with any conditions set by the Director. Technically, the Director "acknowledges receipt" of the Closure Plan according to the provisions of the Mining Act.
What is contained in a Closure Plan?
The requirements of a Closure Plan are set out in Schedule 2 of Regulation 240/00. If you are planning to read a Closure Plan, you should review the requirements available at: (http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/DBLaws/Regs/English/000240_e.htm). In summary, a Closure Plan must include:
Can the decision be challenged?
Any resident of Ontario who has an "interest" in a decision may seek permission or "leave" to appeal the decision to approve or not approve the Closure Plan. The appeal must be made within 15 days of the decision appearing on the Environmental Registry. Details of how to proceed with an appeal are available at: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ebr/english/ebr_info/Right_to_appeal.htm.
Where can the public review a Closure Plan?
The Closure Plan is available at Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Mineral Development and Lands Branch in Sudbury. Depending on the location of the mine, the plan may also be available in the closest regional Mineral Development Office of MNDM - this information will be included in the proposal posting on the Ontario Environmental Registry. Where the interests of a municipality, First Nation or other entity are affected by the mine, the Closure Plan would also be made available to them. In Timmins, for example, Closure Plans for mines affecting that municipality are available in the Planning Office. The public can also contact the mine or mine office for a copy of the Closure Plan.
What makes it a "certified" Closure Plan?
The Chief Financial Officer and one other senior officer of the proponent (mining company) must sign a standard certificate (included in the Regulation), that includes statements that the Closure Plan complies will all aspects of the Mining Act and that the financial assurance will cover the costs of rehabilitation.
Does the Closure Plan have to be "certified"?
Section 142 of the Mining Act provides the opportunity for a proponent to submit a proposed Closure Plan for approval (rather than a certified Closure Plan). However, according to MNDM, no one has ever submitted a Closure Plan under this section of the Act.
What is "Financial Assurance"?
The Closure Plan must specify the form and amount of financial assurance to be provided by the proponent. The amount of the financial assurance must be adequate and sufficient to cover the cost of all the rehabilitation work that is described in the Closure Plan. In calculating the amount required for implementing the rehabilitation work, the proponent must base its costs on the market value cost of the goods and services required by the work. Financial assurance may be in the form of cash, a letter of credit from a bank named in Schedule I to the Bank Act, a bond of a guarantee company approved under the Guarantee Companies Securities Act or through meeting a corporate financial test (self-assurance). The form of self-assurance being provided is confidential - it is included in the Closure Plan that is submitted to MNDM but is NOT publicly available. Section 145(10) of the Mining Act preserves the confidentiality with respect to all financial and commercial information relating to the establishment of a proponent's financial assurance. This section of the Act takes precedence over the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
There is debate/different perspectives within the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines about what aspects of Financial Assurance are publicly available and what is confidential. A legal perspective is that the company submitted the information on the premise that it was confidential. To have access to the information, an individual would have to make a request through Freedom of Information (FOI) to release the data. The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines would receive the FOI request and would have to contact the company to ask "permission" to release the information. MNDM would require an explanation from the company why the information could not be released in order to decline the FOI request.
Why is Financial Assurance important?5
Financial assurance is a financial instrument that guarantees that there are sufficient funds available to ensure the proper closure of a mine in the event that a mining company can't meet its closure plan obligations, usually as a result of financial insolvency. Having adequate financial assurance protects taxpayers from paying for mine closure costs that can run from several million to several hundred million dollars per mine. While the proponent must include the form of Financial Assurance (e.g. cash, letter of credit, bond or self-assurance) in the Closure Plan, this information is not available in the publicly available version of the Closure Plan. This information may be available in the proponent's Financial Statement or the Annual Information Form which is submitted to the Security's Commission. Information about publicly listed companies is available at www.sedar.com. Look under "Company Profiles" - companies are listed alphabetically. From the page listing corporate data on the company, click on View This Company's Public Documents.
What is the approval process for Closure Plans?
The certified Closure Plan is filed with the Director of Mine Rehabilitation. As noted above, this information is posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry as a proposal which is subject to a public comment period. Written comments received within the guidelines set out on the website will be considered as part of the decision-making at the Ministry. Within 45 days of the filing of the Closure Plan, the Director either acknowledges, in writing, receipt of the closure plan OR returns the closure plan if it doesn't address all the reporting requirements. The written acknowledgement is the de facto approval - with the written acknowledgement, the mining company can start or restart advanced exploration or mine production. (Note: If the Director fails to respond within 45 days, the Plan is automatically "filed" - i.e. approved). If the closure plan is deemed "deficient", it is returned to the proponent who makes the necessary changes. The Closure Plan would then be resubmitted for the Director and again posted on the Environmental Registry, with a public comment period.
Are there standards for mine rehabilitation?
Standards, procedures and requirements for rehabilitation of mines and mine hazards are set out in the Mine Rehabilitation Code of Ontario, included as Schedule I of Regulation 240/00. The Code contains objectives and design or monitoring specifications related to:
The Director of Mine Rehabilitation may exempt a proponent from complying with a standard, procedure or requirement IF the Director determines that the closure plan meets or exceeds the specific objectives of the Code.
What's the process if the Closure Plan is amended?
The proponent must submit an amendment to the Closure Plan any time the Closure Plan is materially deficient. The amendment may be required due to a change initiated by the proponent - for example, an expansion of operations (e.g. expansion of the size of a tailings disposal area); change in how operations are being undertaken or a change in the cost of planned rehabilitation activities. The amendment could also be required due to an order from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines which has identified a deficiency through a site inspection. The amendment is submitted to the MNDM for approval and is posted on the Environmental Registry as an information item. A public comment period is NOT required. While the Ministry doesn't have to wait to public comments for make a decision, in practice, it would consider any comments received.
What happens if a mine is sold?
An approved Closure Plan is transferred to the new owner of the mine. The new owner, however, must provide adequate Financial Assurance in an allowable form before the property is transferred.
Government References on the Internet: