An environmental assessment certificate has been issued to BURNCO Rock Products Ltd. (BURNCO) for the BURNCO project, following a decision by George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
BURNCO proposes a 70-hectare sand, gravel and rock mine, located on the northwest shore of Howe Sound, approximately 22 kilometres southwest of Squamish and on the traditional territories of the Squamish Nation, Tsleil Waututh Nation and Musqueam Indian Band.
The BURNCO project would extract up to 1.5 million tonnes of aggregate per year over a 16-year mine life. The project includes a marine barge loading facility and marine transportation route within Howe Sound.
Having considered the Environmental Assessment Office’s (EAO) Assessment Report and the recommendation of the executive director of the EAO to issue a certificate, the ministers are confident that the project will be constructed, operated and closed in a way that ensures that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur. A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the document, Reasons for Ministers’ Decision, online: https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/p/burnco-aggregate/detail
In addition to the 25 conditions that are part of the BURNCO project’s Environmental Assessment Certificate, design requirements are specified in the certified project description. Each of the conditions and the certified project description are legally binding requirements that BURNCO must meet to maintain compliance with the Certificate. BURNCO is also required to obtain other federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed with construction of the project.
The EAO will co-ordinate compliance-management efforts with other government agencies and Indigenous groups to ensure that certificate conditions are met. Squamish Nation indicated its support for the BURNCO Project, having reached an agreement with BURNCO in order to mitigate its concerns. The EAO has included a table of concordance in the EA Certificate, which describes how the EAO’s conditions align with Squamish Nation’s environmental management plans required by Squamish Nation’s conditions under its legally-binding agreement with BURNCO.
Key provincial conditions for the project require BURNCO to:
- Develop a marine mammal protection plan during construction to address underwater noise;
- Develop a fish habitat protection and management plan and a wildlife protection plan to assess, monitor and address impacts to wildlife throughout the life of the project;
- Develop a water management plan to monitor and manage impacts from the mine to nearby watersheds and groundwater flow;
- Develop an air quality and dust control plan to manage fugitive dust emissions; and
- Specify measures that will minimize the visibility of the mine from neighbouring properties.
The plans required by the provincial conditions must be developed in consultation with key government agencies and Indigenous groups. Plans must also be developed with Squamish Nation, and be approved by Squamish Nation, under its separate agreement with BURNCO.
As a result of feedback obtained during the environmental assessment, BURNCO changed a number of design aspects of the project, including:
- Increased the amount of fish habitat offset and greater management of surface and groundwater flow;
- Revised size, location and design of the pit lake containment berm and McNab Creek flood protection dike;
- Reduced proposed maximum depth of the pit lake; and
- Reduced proposed duration and frequency of aggregate barge loading and movements, and proposed hours of construction and operations activities.
The EAO consulted deeply with Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Musqueam Indian Band. Squamish Nation limited its participation in the environmental assessment to specific issues, such as wildlife and fish habitat, and engaged BURNCO in an independent bilateral process. After reaching an agreement with BURNCO, Squamish Nation indicated its support for the project, subject to BURNCO meeting a number of conditions.
The public was consulted throughout the environmental assessment process, which included five open houses with approximately 500 attendees, and three public comment periods with approximately 1,350 comments submitted. Following each public comment period, the EAO required BURNCO to provide responses to key public issues and a report on how BURNCO was addressing public concerns.
According to BURNCO, construction of the new mine is expected to create 40 full-time-equivalent positions per year over the two-year construction period. Total costs of $21.5 million will contribute $8.4 million toward British Columbia’s gross product product. During operations, 14 full-time-equivalent positions are expected to be created, with expenditures averaging $15 million per year over 16 years.
The EAO conducted a co-ordinated environmental assessment with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. A federal decision on the project will be made following the completion of the federal process.
An infographic detailing the BURNCO Environmental Assessment timeline can be viewed here:
For more information on the environmental assessment process, please visit: http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/process.html