First published in the Winnipeg Free Press February 19, 2020
In October of 2018, I was asked by a few folks from Hollow Water First Nations to provide them with any information I could find on frac sand mining, as a Alberta based company was in the final stages of development planning for a proposed frac sand mine and processing facility to be operated adjacent to their reserve.
The information I was able to provide raised some serious issues that needed to be addressed immediately and by December of 2018 a few folks, including myself and a member of Hollow Water First Nations, started up What The Frack Manitoba to bring awareness about the serious issues and impacts associated with frac sand mining.
This was immediately followed up in February of 2019 with the establishment of Camp Morning Star by a number of community members from Hollow Water First Nations. The camp was erected on the only community use trapline and the location of proposed frac sand mine.
As people gathered to celebrate the one year anniversary of Camp Morning Star on February 15th, the company, Canadian Premium Sand (CPS), after bulldozing down the only community use trapline to make way for their proposed frac sand mine, announced on February 4th, 2020 that it was no longer proceeding to the development phase of their proposed frac sand mine until at least 2022.
CPS stated it was due to a down turn in the economic conditions in the frac sand industry in North America.
CPS, after much public concern about the proposed frac sand mine and with the elected leadership in Hollow Water First Nation waving the community’s Section 35 rights, for use of the community trapline, received an Environmental Act Licence from the government of Manitoba in May of 2019.
The Environment Act Licence that CPS received from the government had 98 conditions that they had to meet prior to proceeding to the production phase of its proposed frac sand mine and processing facility.
The licence issued is only valid for a period of three years from the date it was issued, and if for some reason CPS was unable to proceed to the production phase, in the three year time frame, the licence could be revoked according to its terms.
In addition, if CPS was unable to meet the required 98 conditions in their licence, or if the company made significant alterations to its original plans, the licence could be revoked by the government under the terms set out in their licence. This would then require CPS to submit a new Environmental Act Proposal to the Province of Manitoba for approval of a new licence.
What The Frack Manitoba has called upon the government of Manitoba to now take the necessary steps to revoke the licence for CPS, as the three revocation conditions contained in their licence has now been met.
As stated in their February 4, 2020 Press Release, CPS will no longer proceed to the production phase until sometime in 2022, if at all, this is the first condition of revocation in their licence.
CPS as early as October of 2019 stated, in a released management discussion document, that significant changes to the original plan for their frac sand mine and processing facility were forthcoming, these significant changes were again mentioned by CPS in their February 2020 press release. These significant alterations to the original plans meets the second revocation term.
Finally, Camp Morning Star and What The Frack Manitoba are unaware that CPS has fulfilled any of its 98 conditions in their Licence. Given that the company does not even contemplate getting to the production phase of their proposed frac sand mine until after their licence expires, CPS is unlikely to be motivated enough to do so within the three year time frame mandated in their licence. This meets the third condition for revocation of their licence.
CPS has for far too long made many big promises to not only the government of Manitoba, but to the locals communities, to their shareholders and potential investors, and frankly it seems unlikely that they will ever be able to deliver on these big promises.
So it is now high time that the government of Manitoba do the right thing and use their authority to revoke their licence and ask the company to submit a new Environmental Act Proposal for approval for a new licence, if and when CPS is ready to proceed with their proposed frac sand mine.