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Suncor mine extension project referred for panel review

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An impact assessment review regarding the proposal for expansion of Suncor's Base Mine has been referred to an independent panel, according to Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson.

The project would involve the development of a new open-pit mining location in order to sustain the supply of bitumen to the existing upgraders at Suncor's Oil Sands Base Plant operation, once the original base mine is depleted. Mining from the extension would be used to offset and eventually replace declining existing production. The bitumen would be delivered by pipeline to the existing base plant facilities. The project would be located approximately three kilometres north of Fort McMurray, within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Minister Wilkinson determined the referral of the impact assessment to a review panel was in the public interest, taking into consideration the extent to which the project's potential effects in areas of federal jurisdiction may be adverse, concerns expressed by the public and Indigenous groups in relation to these effects, and opportunities for cooperation with the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) has posted a Notice of Referral to Review Panel to its Registry website. Some of the key considerations in the decision to refer include potential adverse environmental effects to species at risk, migratory birds, effects from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as potential impacts on the rights of Indigenous peoples. 

The Agency will work with the Alberta Energy Regulator to ensure coordination and alignment of federal and provincial regulatory processes, including the potential for a joint review panel. 

For more information on the project and the impact assessment process, visit the Agency's website at canada.ca/iaac.

As a next step, the public and Indigenous groups will be invited to provide comment on the draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and the draft Public Participation Plan. Comments will be used to finalize these documents and a Notice of Commencement of the Impact Assessment will be posted to the Agency's Registry website.

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