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Fortune Mineral’s Plan threatens Saskatoon and Langham watershed

In a media release, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society warned that “Fortune Minerals is proposing construction of a metal processing plant near Langham, SK. This proposal involves use of highly hazardous chemicals and the burying on-site of 2.8 million tonnes of arsenic-containing waste.”

A local resident from Langham has warned that “260,000 gallons of water will be drawn out of our aquifer daily, then contaminated and pumped back down through the aquifer to the Manville area to be lost to the water cycle forever.”

CBC reported that “The refinery will sit right on top of the area’s prime source of drinking water, an underground sand and water formation called the Dalmeny aquifer. The town of Langham, and farms surrounding it and Dalmeny, draw their water from that aquifer.”

People have the opportunity to comment on Fortune Mineral’s Environmental Impact Statement  and comments by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment. The deadline is Friday, December 6, 2013 and your concerns can be sent to: Alvin Yuen, P.Eng, Senior Environmental Assessment Administrator at environmental.assessment@gov.sk.ca. 

Here are some more details about the project from the Fortune Minerals Issues Group:

LOCATED: Two kilometers east of Langham and 30 kilometers northwest of Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan.

PROCESS: Bringing Ore from the Northwest Territories to be processed at the Langham location for gold, bismuth, copper and cobalt.

CONCERNS: Local residents in the RM of Corman Park as well as residents in the town of Langham use the Dalmany aquifer as their source of water. Fortune Minerals proposes to draw water from this aquifer at a rate of 36,000 liters per hour, a rate of 315.4 million liters per year (for those of you who still think in gallons, this is 69.35 million gallons per year). This draw down will occur for some 18 to 20 years, the life of their project. Fortune Minerals proposes to contaminate 60% of this water and then pump it back down through our fresh water aquifer to an area called the Mannville area, to be lost to nature’s water cycle.

Local residents are concerned, firstly, with the amount of water being drawn out of their shared fresh water source and, secondly, for the risk of contamination of our fresh water aquifer should Fortune Mineral’s return pumping system ever become compromised.

Extremely toxic chemicals will be used as part of the processing. Chemicals such as sodium cyanide, ammonia hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and hydrofluoric acid are some examples. These chemicals will be transported through and off loaded in our rural community.

Fortune Minerals has purchased a three quarter section parcel of prime agricultural land onto which they propose to build their plant and develop large above ground storage pits in which they plan to deposit the residue from their process, approximately 150,000 tonnes per year.

Local residents are very concerned and are presently in the process of responding to Fortune Mineral’s Impact statement and the Saskatchewan Government Environment Department’s response.

You can read more risks about the project here. Please send in your concerns, comments or questions before Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, as after that date the Minister of Environment will make his decision.