A review of the company’s revised EIA has been completed by Greenland’s Environmental Agency for Mineral Resource Activities (EAMRA) and its advisors.
GGG said EAMRA’s structured comments had provided a clear path to finalising the EIA and thereby moving to the next phase of the licensing process — formal public consultations.
“Clear guidance” provided
Managing director Dr John Mair said, “Kvanefjeld is a significant project for Greenland and is therefore of considerable public interest.
“As such, the EIA review process has been thorough and detailed in order to ensure that the EIA provides confidence to Greenland stakeholders and regulators.
“We are pleased that, after several years of working closely with the Greenland regulators and their advisers, the range of outstanding issues has been significantly narrowed and that clear guidance has been provided to close out the outstanding items.”
In June 2019, the company submitted a revised EIA to EAMRA for review in accordance with Greenlandic legislation and guidelines.
The updated EIA was the culmination of a program of work which began with stakeholder consultations and workshops with government agencies in 2013.
This EIA has been the subject of considerable revision at the request of EAMRA and its principal external advisers, the Danish Centre for the Environment (DCE).
In its structured comments, EAMRA has separated outstanding environmental issues into two categories:
- Type 1 — those where EAMRA require more information before the EIA can be accepted for public consultation; and
- Type 2 — which can be answered after the process of formal public consultation has been completed.
This approach brings the EIA approval process closer to permitting practices in other countries where issues relating to final design and to engineering and construction, which are not salient to significant environmental risk, are dealt with in the final approvals process.
Structured approach “welcome”
Mair said, “We welcome the increasingly structured approach to the review process which has more effectively aligned Greenland’s approach with how reviews of this nature are undertaken in other mining jurisdictions.
“This provides us with confidence that remaining issues will be resolved early in 2020 and a clear path to public consultation will be defined as we move towards completing the licensing process.”
The Type 1 issues have been addressed in previous EIA work but have been assessed by EAMRA as being capable of further refinement.
In anticipation of this, the company has engaged external consultants who will manage and complete the additional work.
It is anticipated that the additional work programs can be completed in a three-month period.
Tailings storage review
Most of the additional work is related to tailings storage facilities, including:
- More detailed modelling of scenarios for embankment failure;
- More detailed review of seismic conditions to validate long-term stability of tailings structures; and
- A request to investigate the viability of an alternative ‘dry closure’ option for the planned tailings facility.
In June, the International Council on Mining and Metals, the United Nations Environment Program and the Principles for Responsible Investment co-convened a global tailings review to establish global best practices on tailings storage facilities.
It is anticipated that this review will be completed by the end of 2019.
GGG acknowledges that it is appropriate for its plans for tailings to be tested against the highest standards and has started a review of the design and operations of tailings management at Kvanefjeld to ensure compliance with updated standards.
Type 2 issues will be incorporated in ongoing work around flowsheet design and continuous technical improvement as well as in optimisation studies for the mine and processing facilities.
The company will continue its dialogue with EAMRA and the DCE in order to finalise the EIA in a timely manner.