Planned Saskatchewan metal refinery runs into opposition
Residents skeptical about disposal of byproducts in underground wells.
LANGHAM, Sask. — Fortune Minerals’ plans to build a metal refinery in Langham, Sask., have hit another road block as locals remain skeptical about the safety of the plant.
A couple of mineral rights owners in the area haven’t consented to the company’s plans to dispose of saline solution byproducts in deep underground wells under their property.
The Oil and Gas Conservation Act says a company has to get the consent of every mineral rights owner who may reasonably be negatively affected by the well.
In this case it includes all owners within a 1.6-kilometre radius of the proposed well site.
Locals are concerned the well might affect their ground water supply in the Dalmeny aquifer because the pipe pumping the waste would go right through it.
There are roughly 4,000 wells in Saskatchewan.
“It’s up to the applicant of the project to gain the confidence of the mineral holders in the area and get their consent,” said Ed Danscok, assistant deputy minister of economy.
Danscok said the ministry approves roughly 20 a month.
“The injection zone is many hundreds of meters below the ground water zone and so there’s very little risk, if any, of contamination from movement of that injection water into the injection zone,” Danscok said.
However, should the company fail to win over locals and convince them of the project’s safety, Danscok said it doesn’t mean the end of the refinery.
He said the company could relocate the well site to a more accepting community or use one of the existing wells in the province.
Corman Park Reeve Judy Harwood said the rural municipality has yet to receive rezoning forms from the company regarding the plant.
The facility northwest of Saskatoon would process minerals such as gold, cobalt, copper and bismuth collected from the NICO mine 160 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife.
© 2014 The Canadian Press