Saskatchewan

Sask. landowners opposed to Yancoal project meet with government ministers

Landowners who will be impacted by the proposed Yancoal mine met with a pair of Saskatchewan government ministers this week.

Group of landowners meets with Economy Minister Bill Boyd, Environment Minister Herb Cox

These people are concerned over the proposed potash mine near Southey. (CBC)

Landowners who will be impacted by the proposed Yancoal mine met with a pair of Saskatchewan government ministers this week.

The contentious Yancoal project is a proposed potash mine near Southey, Sask. Yancoal is owned by the government of China, and has a temporary licence to use water from the Buffalo Pound for solution mining.

In solution mining, water is poured into wells to bring potash up to the surface instead of conventional digging and extraction of the mineral from underground mine shafts.

Yancoal would use millions of cubic metres of water each year to dissolve the potash.

The group of landowners met with Saskatchewan's Economy Minister Bill Boyd and Environment Minister Herb Cox on Monday.

(Left) Saskatchewan Environment Minister Herb Cox. (Right) Saskatchewan Economy Minister Bill Boyd. (CBC)

Thera Nordal, a spokesperson for the group, said they were thankful for the opportunity to meet with the minister, and they're hoping it will lead to the government rejecting Yancoal's proposal "in its current form." 

The group gave the ministers a map indicating which areas landowners declared will not be sold to Yancoal.

"We told Ministers Boyd and Cox that the Saskatchewan government needs to examine its process around approval of mine sites, because the process as it stands is flawed," Nordal said in a news release. "Nowhere in the process are mining companies held to account for participatory public consultation."

Southey resident Neil Wagner said the group is not against potash mine development in general, but there are other options available to Yancoal in less-populated areas.

"We will take whatever personal and legal steps available to limit further development of this site," Wagner said.

He said he's hoping the government will not rush approval of the project "in order to offset potential future royalty losses."

Yancoal has said it could start construction as early as this year.

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