NexGen Energy Ltd. is pleased to announce a major milestone in the advancement of regulatory approvals for the 100% owned Rook I Project with the submission of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment (“ENV”) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (“CNSC”). The EIS submission included letters of support for the Project from each of the Clearwater River Dene Nation (CRDN), Birch Narrows Dene Nation (BNDN), and Buffalo River Dene Nation (BRDN), which all have also endorsed the Project through the execution of Benefit Agreements with NexGen covering the entire lifespan of the Project.
The submission of the draft EIS follows the Provincial and Federal Environmental Assessment (EA) processes that commenced in April 2019 following regulatory acceptance of NexGen’s Project Description. The Project, located in the uranium rich district of Saskatchewan’s southwestern Athabasca Basin, includes underground and surface facilities to support the mining and processing of uranium ore from the Arrow deposit.
Leigh Curyer, Chief Executive Officer commented: “The submission of the draft EIS is an exciting and significant milestone for NexGen, and we are proud to be working alongside our local Indigenous partners and all our stakeholders as we deliver on this generational opportunity for Saskatchewan and Canada. The draft EIS incorporates best practise in every aspect of the Project’s elite environmental performance and is a culmination of many years of detailed data collection, analysis and design. Upon review and approval of the Environmental Assessment, the Rook I Project will deliver enormous economic, social, and community benefits, while being a major supplier of carbon-free base load energy fuel, highlighting Canada’s leading environmental commitment to the world.
On behalf of everyone at NexGen, I would like to congratulate and thank all our valued partners with whom we have been working side by side. The communities where we operate, the government of Saskatchewan and Canada and their regulatory bodies, our valued employees, consultants and investors in accomplishing this unique milestone. The NexGen team is dedicated to the optimal delivery of the Rook I Project and ready for the next exciting phase of development.”
Luke Moger, Vice President, Environment, Permitting & Licensing commented: “Conducting the biophysical and socio-economic assessments in support of developing the draft EIS highlights the elite environmental and social outcomes of the Rook I Project resulting from NexGen’s long-term and disciplined planning approach. Key environmental design features such as the permanent underground storage of all tailings as engineered cemented backfill and the consolidation and optimization of the Project footprint reflect the commitment of the team and the integrated approach taken, including the incorporation of valuable feedback from local Indigenous Groups and communities.
We are excited to share our draft EIS with the experienced Provincial and Federal regulatory teams and welcome the transition to the next stage of the EA process, including the technical and public review that will be led by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.”
NexGen conducted the EA pursuant to The Environmental Assessment Act of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (collectively the “Acts”). The information and analysis conducted and submitted in the EIS represent the basis against which the environmental, social, and human health effects of the Project will be evaluated by the ENV and CNSC.
Since 2011, NexGen established an experienced team of subject matter experts and qualitied professionals across all aspects of the Project to conduct technical studies; engage with Indigenous Groups, communities, regulators, and public stakeholders; and prepare the EIS. The EIS represents the collection of reports that document NexGen’s EA of the proposed Project and demonstrates the robust engagement undertaken over many years, the favorable geological setting of the Arrow deposit, NexGen’s focused incorporation of environmental stewardship into the Project designs, and the generational positive long-term economic benefits the Project will provide to local communities, Saskatchewan, and Canada.
The draft EIS fulfills a key aspect of meeting Provincial and Federal requirements so that regulatory authorities can make an informed decision regarding Project approval. Data and analyses on the potential positive and adverse effects from the Project are included, as well as the mitigation measures and monitoring and management programs to be implemented by NexGen. Other important aspects of the EIS include the demonstration of meaningful engagement with affected Indigenous Groups, local communities, and the public, and the incorporation of Indigenous and Local Knowledge into the EA.
In 2019, NexGen entered into Study Agreements with each of the Clearwater River Dene Nation (“CRDN”), Birch Narrows Dene Nation (“BNDN”), Buffalo River Dene Nation (“BRDN”), and Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (on behalf of Northern Region 2). NexGen has been working with local Indigenous Groups and communities since 2013, with the Study Agreements formalizing engagement approaches specifically designed to support participation in the EA process and providing capacity funding for engagement and retention of technical support. The Study Agreements also fully funded the completion of self-directed Indigenous Knowledge and Traditional Land Use Studies by each Indigenous Group that were valuable sources of information used by NexGen in conducting the EA.
In addition, NexGen has signed Benefit Agreements with the CRDN, BNDN, and BRDN to ensure provisions for ongoing engagement, financial and human resources to support Indigenous cultural and traditional values as well as environmental stewardship, employment, training, and economic development throughout the entire lifespan of the Project.
With submission of the draft EIS, the ENV and CNSC have commenced their respective Provincial and Federal reviews. Under the Provincial EA review process, the ENV has commenced their technical review of the EIS. Under the Federal EA review process, the CNSC is currently undergoing a conformance review of the EIS in advance of conducting parallel technical and public review.
Through a cooperative Provincial-Federal EA process, the ENV and CNSC will share information and work to reduce regulatory duplication, while providing a comprehensive EA process in accordance with the separate requirements that apply and must be satisfied with respect to the Acts, regulations, and guidelines in place for each of the respective jurisdictions.
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