A potential mine site in northern Saskatchewan is receiving opposition due to its potential effects on the environment and lack of consultation.

The Foran McIlvenna Bay Project intends to mine 65 million pounds of copper near Hanson Lake. If permitted, opponents suggest the project could directly harm 13 hectares of muskegs as well as put another 468 hectares at risk by decreasing the groundwater level.

The project’s environmental impact assessment reported 35 observations of woodland caribou in the area, with the caribou group size estimated at 27 individuals. Elder Eileen Linklater said that there has been little to no consultation with members on the proposed project. “The reason why we’re not happy about it, the membership here that is saying no to this mine, there has been no proper consultation. Chief and Council are supposed to be consulting us, sitting down with us to see if we want this mine, but instead they bring in the Foran mine people to come in to have a meeting with us. They call them informational meetings, but as soon as members start questioning, they are limited to talk,” she said. “The environment assessment came out on June 10, and they expect us to read that document. We only have 30 days, and it’s going to expire. July 11 is going to be the deadline to bring out your views and what you think of that assessment process that they did. But the thing is that they didn’t do it for the people; they did it amongst a few people that they had talked to.”

Some of the listed concerns members have regarding the proposed project include Peatland destruction and degradation, increased fire risk, increased risk of flooding, water pollution, woodland caribou habitat loss, and deforestation.

“We have so many barriers in regards to the language part; a lot of our members don’t know how to read. A lot of us don’t understand high-tech words; and then, as for the technology part, when we talk to somebody, they say, go to this website, like even me; I’m illiterate, and on that part in regards to technology, I want help; I told them, I can’t just go on any website; I don’t even have Facebook,” explained Linklater.

PBCN members recently gathered at the Pelican Narrows Bridge to protest against the project and gather support. The Foran McIlvenna Bay Project is currently under review and is allowing the public to comment and provide feedback until July 11th.