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Environment Ontario to Assess Melancthon Quarry Proposal

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Opposition to the mega quarry proposed outside Melancthon Township, Ontario, has apparently been heard: The provincial government has announced plans to do an environmental assessment of the project.

"After careful consideration, the Minister of Natural Resources and I have agreed to bring forward a regulation making Highland Companies subject to the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act,” said John Wilkinson, Ontario’s environment minister. “As a result the company will be required to undertake a comprehensive Environmental Assessment for the proposed quarry in Melancthon Township.”

In the September 1 statement from Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Wilkinson said that provincial officials, had “thoroughly examined the technical reports” and determined that a full environmental assessment is warranted.

“The McGuinty government is committed to protecting our water and our environment,” Wilkinson said, referring to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. “Today's decision ensures that a transparent and independent assessment of the environmental impacts of Melancthon quarry proposal will be conducted."

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The quarry being proposed by Highland Industries (and backed by a Boston-based hedge fund) would be on 2,300 acres of prime farmland that also lies on Chimnissing territory. It would require removing 600 million liters (160 million gallons) of water daily that would be returned later, though not necessarily in its original pristine form. The site sits at the convergence of several major watersheds.

The Suzuki Foundation, a non-profit environmental group based in Vancouver, wants to see the federal government get involved as well, to address First Nations’ land and consultation rights, among other issues and environmental concerns.

"This is a good first step, but more steps are needed to deal with the complexity and enormity of the issue,” said Suzuki spokesman and aquatic affairs specialist John Werring.