Nova Scotia's mining rules are outdated: Professor
Several mining companies have temporarily halted operations and exploration activities in eastern Canada as unprecedented wildfires rage.
Iron Ore Co. of Canada, which is majority owned by Rio Tinto Group, is in the process of idling operations at the mine, concentrator and pellet plant in Labrador City, Newfoundland, because it can’t ship products out. Its 418-kilometer (260-mile) Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway is suspended until at least Friday “due to fire and smoke hazards, as well as damage to our telecommunications infrastructure and power line along the track,” a company spokesperson said in an email.
In the Northern Abitibi region of Quebec, Hecla Mining Co. suspended operations at its Casa Berardi gold mine due to an emergency order from the provincial government prohibiting access to lands impacted by forest fires.
Canada is on pace for its worst-ever wildfire season on record, with approximately 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) burned so far this year, according to data from the Canadian government. That’s almost double the area of Lake Ontario. Smoke has drifted south and is hanging over New York, Toronto and Ottawa, among other affected cities, on Tuesday.
More than 400 active fires were burning across the country as of Monday, prompting thousands to evacuate their homes. In Quebec, the largest province by land area, about 150 fires are active, with most of them out of control, according to the website of the Société de Protection des Forêts Contre le Feu, a Quebec non-profit organization.
Gold producer Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. had to reduce operations at some of its sites between June 2 and June 5, but normal operations resumed Monday, company spokeswoman Natalie Frackleton said in a Tuesday email. Exploration activities remain suspended.
Wallbridge Mining Co. temporarily evacuated the camp at its Fenelon Gold project and suspended exploration activities in the area. Osisko Mining Inc. has also withdrawn its staff at its Windfall gold project. Companies including Brunswick Exploration Inc. and Norris Lithium Inc. and others also announced a temporary suspension of their activities.
Resolute Forest Products, recently acquired by Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corp., halted one facility due to a logging ban. “Our sawmilling operations have been suspended at Lebel-sur-Quévillon, and may also be interrupted at other sites in the event of a wood shortage, but it’s still a little early to identify them,” Louis Bouchard, a company spokesman, said by email. “This is an extremely rare situation, and we remain on alert.”
Firefighters from many countries have come to Quebec, along with the Canadian army, to help the province extinguish fires. Quebec Premier François Legault said during a press conference in Sept-Iles, about 560 miles northeast of Montreal, that he was relieved to see rain but “that doesn’t mean it’s going to help all problems.”
Legault also voiced his concerns about the threat to key electrical infrastructure owned by Hydro-Quebec in Baie-Comeau, in the eastern part of the province. Two water bombers were dispatched in the area. “Protecting the Micoua station is a top priority,” he said.