Environmental Impact Statement
Environmental Impact Statement

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Star-Orion South Diamond Project was submitted to the Province on December 22, 2010.  The draft EIS is currently being reviewed by regulators and Aboriginal groups, and may be amended or supplemented based on feedback received. Once feedback is incorporated as appropriate, the EIS will be made available for review by the general public.  Information in the EIS, as well as all relevant feedback, will be used by government to decide whether or not to approve the project, and, should it proceed, what conditions should be attached to any approval.  The EIS is 4,326 pages long (including appendices). It has ten sections:

1. Introduction
2. Project Description
3. Analysis of Alternatives
4. Public and Aboriginal Engagement
5. Baseline Characterization

6. Effects Assessment
7. Environmental Management Plans
8. Residual Effects Summary
9. Cumulative Effects Assessment
10. Conclusions and Commitments

The information presented here is only intended as a summary of the EIS.  For full details, the actual document should ultimately be accessed.  Since the EIS is currently being reviewed, changes may be made in the summary information presented below as a result of comments received.  Once the EIS has undergone detailed technical review, the full document will be made available for public comment.  Information contained in the Final EIS will take precedence over the information below.

The material presented on this web page provides a brief overview of the Project Description (Chapter 2), a listing of the environmental areas studied in the Baseline Characterization (Chapter 5), and an overview of the results of the Effects Assessment (Chapter 6).  Please also see the Executive Summary for other information.

The location of the Project is shown in the Figure below.



Overview of the Project Description

  • Star Pit-- first open pit, would be excavated to expose and remove kimberlite for processing.  Sand, clay and till would be placed in the Overburden and Rock Storage Area; processed kimberlite to external piles
  • Orion South Pit-- second open pit, would be excavated once mining Star Pit is complete.  Sand, clay and till would be placed back into the Star Pit, fine processed kimberlite to be pumped into the Star Pit, and coarse processed kimberlite to be stacked in the coarse pile
  • Processing plant -- processing is crushing and washing of rock to free up diamonds, which are then separated using the physical properties of the diamonds.  No toxic chemicals would be used in processing.
  • Site facilities-- maintenance shop, administration building, emergency response building, and interpretive centre
  • Overburden and Rock Storage Area-- large (2,247 ha) pile of soil, up to 45 m high
  • Processed Kimberlite Containment Facility (PKCF)-- crushed kimberlite less than 1 mm in diameter to be pumped in slurry for settling.  Final height 60 m.
  • Coarse Processed Kimberlite pile-- larger crushed kimberlite (between 1 mm and 45 mm) to be stacked in a pile up to 54 m high
  • Road corridor, power line, water management reservoir and temporary construction camp
  • Total Project footprint would be 4,259 ha out of a total of 132,769 ha in the Fort à la Corne forest, less than 4% of the forest.

Deep groundwater would be pumped out of around the pits during operation to keep the open pits dry.  Pumping would move up to 154,000 m3 per day.  Half of this would be used in the process plant.  All water would be managed in the reservoir, settled out and discharged to the Saskatchewan River, representing increased flow of about 0.7% of low flow of River.

Baseline Characterization

Environmental areas studied to describe what the Fort à la Corne Forest looks like right now included:

  • Geology
  • Soils and Terrain
  • Geochemistry
  • Air and Noise
  • Hydrology
  • Groundwater
  • Surface Water Quality
  • Fisheries and Aquatics
  • Vegetation
  • Wildlife
  • Biodiversity
  • Socio-economics
  • Traditional Land Use
  • Non-traditional Land Use
  • Human Health
  • Archeology


For each environmental area, Potential interactions with the Project were determined.  Valued Components (VCs) were determined based on scientific literature, and feedback from communities and regulators.  Effects on VCs were described based on:

    • Magnitude
    • Spatial extent
    • Duration
    • Frequency
    • Reversibility
    • Ecological Context
    • Level of Confidence
    • Probability


Effects Assessment

The EIS provides a prediction of the potential effects of the Project on the environment as required by the regulators.  Each prediction will be reviewed and modified as needed as part of the technical review process.   These predictions are summarized below:

  • Air quality
    • No predicted decrease in air quality, due to use of electric power instead of burning fossil fuels
  • Noise
    • No predicted continuous increase in noise
    • Blasting would occur during the day
  •  Hydrology
    • Effect on Streams and Ravines in the Fort à la Corne (FalC) forest
      • Three Ravines will be blocked and diverted
      • Water from these Ravines would be diverted around the site
    • Effect on Saskatchewan River
      • Water would be added to the River (less than 1% of low flow)
  • Groundwater
    • Drinking water
      • Will not pump down shallow aquifers from which drinking water is taken
      • Deep, non-potable (not used for human consumption) aquifers will be pumped down
      • Possibility that, over long period of time, this may lower the surface aquifer
    • Monitoring proposed to identify effects before they occur
      • If effects occur on wells, Shore will work with the landowner to determine an acceptable solution
  • Navigation on Saskatchewan and Whitefox Rivers
    • Bridge over the Whitefox River; water discharge into the Saskatchewan River
  • Soils and terrain
    • Orion South Pit and part of Star Pit would become lakes
    • Soil will be moved; replaced at reclamation
  • Surface Water Quality
    • Water would be discharged to the Saskatchewan River
    • Predicted discharge water is not toxic to fish, but is not potable due to dissolved naturally occurring solids
    • Metals in discharge water are naturally occurring, mostly from groundwater
    • Small increase in some metals due to processing
    • Some parameters are naturally high in the River, and will also be high in the discharge
  • Fisheries and Aquatic Life
    • Fish habitat lost in three ravines
    • Mitigated by submission of a legally required No Net Loss plan with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), to be determined in consultation with communities
    • Discharge is not predicted to impact fish health in the Saskatchewan River

  • Vegetation
    • Trees and plants will be removed in the Project area
    • Less than 4% of the FalC forest is proposed to be cleared
    • Cleared areas would be replanted throughout mine operation and once mining is complete using the same native species that occur in other parts of the FalC forest
  • Wildlife
    • Expected to move into other areas of the forest
    • FalC forest is predicted to accommodate this wildlife
    • Health of animals not expected to change
  • Biodiversity
    • Do not expect the number of different types of plants and animals to go down
    • Local seed sources will be used at reclamation
    • Salvage and direct placement of soil where possible would conserve plants and seeds
  • Socio Economic
    • Positive effects during construction and operation predicted for:
      • Provincial economy and revenues
      • Regional employment and population
    • Effects would end once operations end
  • Non-Traditional Land Use
    • Activities could resume once reclamation and revegetation is complete
  • Archeology
    • Heritage resource impact mitigation completed
  • Traditional Land Use
    • Much information received prior to filing
    • Some information still being collected
    • Some activities would be moved to other parts of the forest
  • Human Health; Visual Aesthetics
    • No health effects predicted due to non-toxic nature of the processing and products
    • visual effect shown in the figure below


  • The Project is predicted to be a net benefit to the immediate area, the region, and the province based on information presented in the EIS
  • All material released to the environment is naturally occurring and is predicted to be non-toxic
  • The Project would affect 4,259 ha (less than 4% of the FalC forest) if approved
  • Closure is expected to replace wildlife habitat and vegetation communities and create new aquatic habitat
  • Significant effects are predicted to be limited to the Project footprint
  • No permanent effects other than terrain changes are expected if the Project is approved



Document Downloads

Star-Orion South Diamond Project Environmental Effects Summary (August 14, 2013)

Star-Orion South Diamond Project Revised Environmental Impact Statement-  Executive Summary (August 10, 2012)

Star-Orion South Diamond Project Environmental Impact Statement - Executive Summary



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