Canadian Manufacturing

Government of Canada approves the Marathon Palladium project

by CM staff   

Environment Human Resources Manufacturing Operations Regulation Mining & Resources Public Sector Aboriginal Biigtigong Nishnaabeg critical mineral Electric Vehicles environmental assessment full-time jobs government of Canada joint review panel Marathon Palladium Platinum group metals


Seven Indigenous groups participated in the environmental assessment process.

OTTAWA — The Canadian government approved the Marathon Palladium project following an environmental assessment conducted by an independent joint review panel (JRP).

The Marathon Palladium project, is a proposed palladium mine located 10 kilometres from Marathon, Ont., and along the shores of the Biigtig Zibi (Pic River), nine kilometres north of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg’s reserve.

“Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and the Crown worked to build a collaborative relationship throughout the environmental assessment for the project,” said Chief Duncan Michano, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg. “The project is on the exclusive Aboriginal title territory of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and since the community is the most highly impacted by the proposed project, the Crown needed to provide Biigtigong Nishnaabeg with supports and resources that would accommodate for impacts and enable the community to benefit from the project. The Crown recognized and respected Biigtigong Nishnaabeg’s requirement for a consensus-based process, and we believe we have set a new precedent for how the government can and should work with First Nations on a Nation-to-Nation basis in decision-making.”

Platinum group metals (including palladium, platinum and rhodium) are essential metals in the manufacturing of automotive catalytic convertors, which reduce vehicle emissions. Copper, which would also be produced by the project, is a critical mineral for electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure, and for the growth of renewable energy infrastructure.

The project is expected to create between 430 and 550 full-time jobs for the local workforce during the construction phase and 430 jobs during its operation, according to the proponent.  The proponent has committed to hiring 25 per cent of the project workforce (about 100 workers) from within Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and to exclusive contracting opportunities with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg owned and operated companies.

The decision statement issued by the minister sets out 269 legally binding conditions to protect the environment, including mitigation measures and follow-up program requirements.

Generation PGM Inc. (the proponent) must comply with these conditions throughout the life of the project. The conditions include measures to address adverse effects of the project on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Indigenous peoples, physical and cultural heritage and the health and socio-economic conditions of Indigenous peoples, as well as fish and fish habitat, migratory birds and species at risk, such as woodland caribou.

Numerous conditions include clear requirements to consult Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, including some that reference the need to “seek consensus”. This includes, for example, plans to divert the water discharge away from the Biigtig Zibi, if technically and economically feasible, which is a culturally significant waterway for local Indigenous peoples. The statement also requires the proponent to develop and implement a reclamation plan for restoring the project footprint once operations have ended and the mine has been decommissioned.

Seven Indigenous groups participated in the environmental assessment process, including the public hearing, and informed the JRP report. Crown Consultations with these groups resulted in several accommodation measures to address potential impacts to established or asserted rights, as recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of The Constitution Act, 1982.

The proponent can now proceed with obtaining any additional authorizations and permits from federal departments. This includes an approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Fisheries Act, from Natural Resources Canada under the Explosives Act, and Environment and Climate Change Canada under the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations.

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