October 25, 2018

Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Receives Environmental Assessment Approval

Today, Environment Minister Dustin Duncan announced approval for the Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Project under The Environmental Assessment Act.  The Star Diamond Corporation can now proceed with the next steps of the project, which will be located approximately 65 kilometres east of Prince Albert in the Fort à la Corne Forest.

“The Star-Orion South Diamond Mine is a major development with the potential to bring jobs to the area and diversify Saskatchewan’s economy,” Duncan said.  “The Government of Saskatchewan has an obligation to ensure that developments undergo comprehensive assessment and proceed with appropriate environmental safeguards in place.  I am confident this project has met these requirements and the conditions of approval will mitigate environmental and community impacts.”

The diamond mine is expected to employ 700 people during full operation.  When developed, the mine will contribute to the local and provincial economies through taxes, royalties and business opportunities.

The Ministry of Environment oversees Saskatchewan’s environmental assessment process, which includes a comprehensive cross-government review, as well as a public review period.  The environmental assessment process focuses on the potential environmental impacts of a project and relies on professional and unbiased expertise to help reach objective and science-based conclusions.  The public participation process provides the general public the opportunity to prepare and submit meaningful input so all views on a project are considered before a final decision is made.

The ministry conducted a thorough environmental assessment for the Star Diamond Mine project, including a detailed environmental impact statement, and carried out in-depth consultation prior to the decision to approve the project.  This includes fulfilling the province’s duty to consult responsibility.  The environmental assessment included a technical review by government experts as well as an extended 60-day public review period.

The Government of Saskatchewan consulted with local First Nations and Métis communities and has developed accommodations that will address potential adverse impacts to Treaty rights and traditional uses.  These accommodations are part of 11 conditions of the project approval requiring Star Diamond to incorporate mitigation measures over the life of the project to address environmental and community impacts.

These include:

  • preparing a fish habitat compensation plan and monitoring the quality of the air, surface water and groundwater for the life of the project;
  • involving James Smith Cree Nation in environmental monitoring programs for the project;
  • providing funding to James Smith Cree Nation to support community participation in a stewardship committee, a community harvest support program and community cultural programs;
  • providing funding for moose and elk population surveys;
  • entering into an agreement to provide training, jobs and business opportunities for James Smith Cree Nation and other local communities; and
  • preparing an access management plan for the Fort à la Corne Forest to facilitate use and/or protection of preferred areas for carrying out Treaty and Aboriginal rights and traditional uses.

In addition, unique to this project, a conservation area is being set aside elsewhere in the Fort á la Corne Forest to provide continued opportunity for the exercise of Treaty and Aboriginal rights.

Prior to proceeding with the project, Star Diamond will be required to obtain further provincial and municipal permits and approvals.  These include a surface lease, an environmental protection plan, an aquatic habitat protection permit, a water rights licence and provincial highway access permits.

A copy of the Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Project decision can be found at www.publications.gov.sk.ca/deplist.cfm?d=66&c=4428.

Further information on the environmental assessment process can be found at www.saskatchewan.ca/environmentalassessment.