The Cheviot Mine Project underwent extensive public and regulatory review between 1994 and 2000. In 2000, the Joint Review Panel determined that, conditional on CRO meeting its commitments and the Panel’s requirements, the project met provincial and federal regulatory requirements and is in the public interest.
In 2004, when mining began in the Cheviot Creek phase of the Cheviot mine, joint government and Teck review teams were established to better understand and guide the relationship between mining and the environment . Areas of particular focus included water quality and flows, fisheries, aquatic monitoring, large carnivores, wildlife movement, harlequin ducks and recreational use. Work plans were developed for each of these interests and over the last six years have been completed or evolved into other processes.
With the 10-year renewal of our Environmental Protection & Enhancement Act (EPEA) approval for the Cheviot mine, we continue to focus on environmental management and performance. We maintain an extensive series of environmental management systems, and our annual reports provide information on the full range of these systems, monitoring results and adaptive refinements to our programs. Focused management plans are in place for aquatic monitoring, haul road water management, selenium, grizzly bears and harlequin ducks.
In order to manage mining activities within the watershed effectively, we must ensure that we have accurate aquatic data over the long-term, which allows us to measure, evaluate, and if necessary, further mitigate the effects of our activities on aquatic life. Gathering information on historical stream flows and individual watershed characteristics facilitates efficient planning of the Cheviot development and long-term reclamation activities, including the development of lakes and streams. A description and the results of our monitoring programs can be found in our sustainability reports. View our most recent sustainability report.
The 20 kilometre Cheviot haul road runs along the upper McLeod River and crosses several streams. Ensuring that sediment release to this watershed is effectively controlled is a critical component of our water management program. This program addresses settling pond design and maintenance, clean water diversions, road maintenance and monitoring, and is updated periodically.
The western Harlequin duck is a small, relatively uncommon sea duck that breeds and nests in low densities in fast-flowing mountain streams. The McLeod River watershed and approximately 50 other Alberta foothills drainages provide habitat for these ducks. Due to their sensitivity to changes in stream flow characteristics and disruption to nesting habitat, studying and managing for Harlequin duck requirements has been an important part of our environmental plan. The Harlequin duck is listed as a species of special concern by the Alberta government.
Several activities were undertaken by CRO which have resulted in minimizing and mitigating potential disruption to the Harlequin duck population. Examples include canceling plans for a rail line and its associated requirement to change the alignment of the McLeod River; re-alignment of the Grave Flats Road resulting in reduced opportunities for random camping near duck habitat; and constructing full-span crossings of Prospect Creek, Whitehorse Creek and McLeod River to provide good access for Harlequin ducks along the stream channel.
We are currently reviewing our duck management and monitoring programs at the request of Alberta Environment and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. Once complete, our plan will be available here for download. We continue to conduct annual surveys in the upper McLeod River and its tributaries to monitor any changes to the Harlequin duck population.