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Proposed Potash Mine Will Impact Thousands of Hectares of Critical Habitat for Species at Risk

April 16, 2019
Stew Coles

The Province of Saskatchewan is preparing to give the go ahead to a new solution potash mine that would harm or destroy up to 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) of increasingly rare grassland, wetland and riparian (creek valley slopes) habitat in the upper Wascana Creek watershed near the towns of Sedley and Francis.

Saskatchewan has already lost approximately 86.7% of its native grasslands, placing dozens of prairie species in jeopardy. This project, if approved, would impact populations of several at-risk birds such as the Loggerhead Shrike, the Long-billed Curlew, the Short-eared Owl, and the Ferruginous Hawk as well as the American Badger and the Northern Leopard Frog, among nearly 150 species of wildlife using the lands.

The details you need to know:

  1. The proposed mine is called Project Albany, and it has been put forward by CanPacific Potash, a partnership between Russian fertilizer giant, JSC Acron and a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, a giant mining company, notorious for its lengthy environmental rap sheet.
  2. The project’s massive well field area would fragment, disturb and strip surface vegetation from ~4,394 ha of pasture/grassland, ~1,002 ha of wetland, and ~802 ha of riparian habitat to build roads, pipelines and well sites to pump the water they need to extract potash.
  3. This kind of habitat alteration, disturbance, and noise on the landscape would severely degrade the land’s capacity to host the  146 species of wildlife, including many federally-listed species at risk, currently using the land and detected during the mandatory wildlife assessment work conducted in 2017 and 2018.
  4. The mine could easily be shifted to nearby cultivated lands without displacing the endangered species that depend on the grasslands, wetlands and creek valleys

You can send an email to the Environmental Assessment branch of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment before May 15th to let the Government of Saskatchewan know that you won’t stand for the destruction of critical grasslands habitat. 

For more information, you can take a look at the technical reviews of Project Albany here.