Federal agencies raise flag over Ring of Fire

Environment Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service urge caution in assessing chromite project

Posted: Feb 21, 2012 8:39 AM ET – Last Updated: Feb 23, 2012 7:01 AM ET

Cliffs Natural Resoures Black Thor chromite mine project is set in the Ring of Fire region in northern Ontario.

Cliffs Natural Resoures Black Thor chromite mine project is set in the Ring of Fire region in northern Ontario.

CBC News has learned two federal agencies want a more thorough review of the environmental impacts of chromium mining in the Ring of Fire. Read more

Cliffs considers Vermilion river for smelter’s water supply

Other industrial development planned for Vermilion as well

CBC News Posted: Nov 19, 2012 10:52 AM ET


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1-VRS - Above CliffsCliffs Natural Resources says it’s evaluating a number of water sources, including the Vermilion River, for its proposed ferrochrome smelter in Capreol in Sudbury — and that has the local stewardship committee concerned.

Vermilion River Stewardship chair Linda Heron said the river can’t take any more development.

“For years the water levels have been going lower and lower, so we question what we can afford to lose additionally out of the river,” she said.

There are already five proposals for hydro-electric dams that could end up on the Vermilion River, in addition to the Cliffs project. Xeneca has four proposed Hydro electric dams on the Vermilion River, and Water Power Group plans to put a hydroelectric dam in Capreol.

Operating within watershed

Jason Aagenes, director of Environmental Affairs with Cliffs, said an environmental assessment will determine the effect of operating within the Vermilion River watershed, especially during extended low-flow river conditions.

“Water intake from rivers will be governed by only allowing a small percentage of withdrawal from historical low flow river conditions,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

The environmental assessment will also determine the impact of the project on downstream users.

Heron said she hopes the province will carefully consider the impact Cliffs’ smelter will have on the river.

“This development will be in a watershed, and they will be right next to the Vermillion River,” she said. “So whatever happens there will flow down to us.”

Cliffs is also eyeing the Roberts River, as well as water in nearby pits, site surface water run-off, and alternative groundwater sources for its Capreol ferrochrome production facility.

At Soo Crossing, Vermilion River – Modified Run of River Hydroelectric Proposal

Site of the 4th in a series of hydroelectric dams proposed for the Vermilion River.  The powerhouse would be located only meters away from a public beach at Centennial Park.

The proposed dam is a “modified run of river” which entails rapid and extreme changes in water flow velocity and levels several times daily under some flow conditions, and holding water back in head ponds for several hours, and sometimes days in order to release during peak demand hours to generate power.

This type of operating strategy can make ice conditions unstable and unsafe during winter months, and make swimming, fishing, boating or in-water recreation extremely dangerous.   Vermilion River Stewardship is opposed to this type of hydroelectric dam.

Wabagisihik Rapids, Vermilion River – Modified Run of River Hydroelectric Proposal

This is the last in a series of 5 proposed modified run of river hydroelectric dams on the Vermilion River.

The proponent proposes to use all of Wabagishik Lake as its headpond, and intends to locate a 6 meter high dam 2/3rd of of the way down this beautiful 1 km stretch of rapids.  This would flood the upstream rapids into a headpond, and remove most of the flow from the downstream section for hours, and for days during the low flow seasons.

The zone of influence for this proposal is all of Wabagishik Lake, Wabagishik Rapids, and the remainder of the Vermilion, right out to its confluence with the Spanish River.

Vermilion River Stewardship is opposed to this proposal as it would be extremely damaging to the riverine ecosystem, water quality, water quantity, and the dam would be located right in the middle of a significant walleye spawning bed.  Ice conditions would be unstable, and swimming, fishing, boating and in-water recreation would be extremely dangerous within the zone of influence – which is about 20 km of Wabagishik Lake and Vermilion River.   Does this sound like green energy to you?


Capreol’s Potential Hydro Generation Project

A company named WaterPower Group held a public meeting, in October of 2012, for members of the Capreol Business Association, Capreol Community Action Network, and members of the Town at the Millenium Centre.  This proponent proposes to build a hydroelectric dam on the Vermilion River at Cedar Rapids.

To read an article, go to page 15 of  The Capreol Press – October 1, 2012 – No. 87.

The photos below are of the area that is proposed to be dammed – Cedar Rapids on the Vermilion River.


VRS Comments on Cliffs Chromite Project – Terms of Reference

An Exerpt from the Cliffs Chromite Project’s Terms of Reference:

The Ferrochrome Production Facility (FPF)

The Capreol FPF Site is situated within the City of Greater Sudbury’s municipal boundary limits, approximately 40 km directly north of the City’s downtown core.  The FPF site is located approximately 15 km to the north-west of the Wahnapitae First Nation community, which is situated on the north-western shore of Lake Wanapitei.  The Site is situated approximately 20 km north-west of the community of Capreol, which is an outlying settlement area with the City of Greater Sudbury.  The small community of Milnet, with less than 10 homes, is located on Ironside Lake approximately 2 km south-west of the Site.

The Capreol FPF consists of a materials handling facility for receiving materials from the Transload Facility, rotary kilns, AC or DC furnaces, product shotting and drying facilities, slag granulation/repository, associated gas handling and environmental systems, water and sewage treatment facilities, site access roads and administration and maintenance facilities.  Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of concentrate will be processed each day using electric arc furnaces to produce approximately 1,250 to 1,750 tonnes of ferrochrome.  The area required to house the FPF Site facilities and infrastructure is approximately 95 ha.  In addition, an area of approximately 65 ha is required to house the slag stockpile which id located to the north of the FPF.

Hydro One’s existing Hanmer TS, located 8 km to the west of the Greater Sudbury Airport, is planned as the power supply source for the Capreol FPF Site.  The Hanmer TS is a 500 kV facility situated approximately 20 km south-east of the FPF Site.  Power is intended to be provided from Hanmer TS to the FPF Site by a 230 kv double circuit transmission line.


My Resignation from the Vermilion Stakeholders’ Advisory Committee

The following is an important development with regard to the 4 Vermilion River hydroelectric proposals currently going through the approvals process.  In March of 2011 I was asked by Mark Holmes, of Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca), if I would sit on a Vermilion Stakeholders’ Committee (VSAC), and early in 2012 I eventually agreed, on the grounds that if the VSAC were to find these projects were not environmentally and ecologically viable that the project would be dropped.    The following correspondence clearly sets out why I am no longer a member of the VSAC Committee. Read more

Northern Ontarion’s please show your concerns on these dams – Vermilion River.

Hi my name is John Healy and I have a problem with the dams being proposed on the Vermillion River especially Wabagishik lake.  This is a unique fast flowing section of river that is vibrant for walleye/bass/sucker and even shows positive evidence of Sturgeon who strive to come back to their natural habitats and are endangered. This is a site in which I frequent whenever I want a peaceful time in my boat. Whenever I want to impress family and friends from other parts of the world that we have things in our back yard that money can’t buy or build. Its natural beauty is its way of producing fish and providing a natural habitat for animals. Read more