Avalon has conducted extensive baseline studies at the Nechalacho Project, including studying waterfowl, fish, aquatic mammals, birds, vegetation and endangered plant species; ground water and surface water chemistry in the lakes of the area, including aquatic biology; and analyzing the terrain and collecting meteorological data. An impact assessment study concluded that no adverse environmental impacts from the Nechalacho Project are anticipated.
Avalon has further optimized the production process and environmental design to reduce adverse environmental risk from the Project, including the development and testing of specialized water treatment processes.
Avalon was not aware of any regulated limits for rare earth elements in discharged water, such as those in place for commonly mined elements like nickel and copper. To address this gap, Avalon has assisted in the development of Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (“CCME”) guidelines for all the REE although they are not known to be toxic to aquatic life or humans at any level of concentration.
In consultation with communities of interest, Avalon has prepared prioritized environmental management plans and is advancing additional plans as part of this process and in preparation construction and operations.
While permits for pre-construction work are already in place, Avalon is continuing to slowly progress the permitting process to obtain the Class A Water Licence and Land Use Permit authorizing mine construction, operation and closure activities. Once there is renewed investor interest, the process will be accelerated again with the expectation that it can be completed in approximately 4-6 months.
Nechalacho Permitting Timeline of Events:
- MVEIRB started the Environmental Assessment (“EA”) process which included the completion of scoping sessions and terms of reference by February 14, 2011.
- Avalon submitted a Developers Assessment Report (“DAR”), (otherwise known as an Environmental Impact Statement), on May 20, 2011. A copy of the DAR can be found on MVEIRB’s public registry.
- The Report of Environmental Assessment was released by MVEIRB on July 26, 2013. The Nechalacho Project was approved, subject to the implementation of measures and commitments set out in the report. Read the Report of Environmental Assessment here.
- The Report of Environmental Assessment was approved on November 4, 2013 by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, on behalf of the Responsible Ministers (Environment Canada, Transport Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories).
- A ‘Class A’ Land Use Permit was received from the MVLWB in April 2014. This allows Avalon to start pre-construction, low impact activities including site preparation, early camp erection, portal development and associated infrastructure such as roads, power and water treatment. In May 2014, Avalon received its ‘Class B’ Water License. Avalon also has permits in place for the existing exploration camp, quarry and airport expansion.
Health and Safety
Avalon recognizes the importance of strong leadership in health and safety and provides the resources necessary to develop and implement the health and safety policies and programs at the Nechalacho Project. This includes, but is not limited to, clear roles and responsibilities, training, risk management, emergency response and reporting requirements.
When the project is active, all workers must attend a safety meeting at the start of shift to discuss how to safely conduct the work planned for that day. Once a week, there are joint safety meetings for all workers at the site where general safety aspects are discussed. Special safety meetings are called if a new high risk activity occurs. Any incidents are immediately reported to Avalon’s VP Exploration who also reviews any potential health and safety risks, issues or near misses with the crew every week.