Environmental groups Friday condemned a decision by a joint federal-provincial regulatory panel to conditionally approve a new oilsands project in northern Alberta.

On Thursday, the Joint Review Panel outlined 20 conditions related to the environmental and technical aspects of the Joslyn North mine Total E&P Canada is proposing to build 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.


Raw bitumen is shown at Shell's Albian Sands oilsands mine, one of four now in operation near Fort McMurray, Alta. ((Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press))

The mine is due to start up in 2017 and produce 100,000 barrels of bitumen per day over its 20-year life. There are now four oilsands mines in operation.

The panel said the project would have "no significant adverse effect" on wildlife and water quality and would meet targets on reducing waste, known as tailings, from the oilsands extraction process.

"Accordingly, the panel finds that the project is in the public interest."

Greenpeace and the Sierra Club said the project will result in one and a half million tonnes of greenhouse gas each year.

The approval came the same day Alberta announced a new panel to monitor the environmental impact of the oilsands.

"This approval shows that the all-talk, no-action federal and provincial governments are more committed to ignoring their promises when it comes to the environment than they are to protecting it," Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema said in a statement.

With files from The Canadian Press