BY RICHARD GILBERT - Royal Dutch Shell has asked federal regulators to halt the environmental assessment for a proposed mine in northeastern Alberta, as part of a plan to re-evaluate the timing of developments.
“Shell has determined that it will need to adjust the development timing for PRM (Pierre River mine),” said Andrew Rosser, Shell Canada Energy vice president, heavy oil sustainable development and regulatory.
“Although the extent of such a change in timing is not yet known, information that has been filed in support of the project application, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment, may no longer be accurate and will require updates.”
Rosser made this statement in a letter sent recently to Alex Bolton, chairman of the Joint Review Panel for the Pierre River mine project. He said Shell isn’t prepared to proceed to a hearing until updated information is available that more accurately reflects development plans.
The proposed PRM project involves the construction of an oilsands surface mine and bitumen extraction facilities, which would be located about 90 km north of Fort McMurray on the west side of the Athabasca River.
The development includes an open-pit mine, ore handling facility, bitumen extraction facilities, tailings processing facilities, support infrastructure, water and tailings management plans, as well as the construction of a bridge across the Athabasca River. It is designed to produce a total of 200,000 barrels of bitumen per day.
In addition, the project involves the construction of permanent and temporary access roads, work camps, electrical power line supplies, water storage facilities, waste water infrastructure and an airstrip.
The joint review panel requires Shell to provide quarterly updates until Feb. 11, 2015, as to the status of its evaluation of the timing of the project. It is also necessary to tell the panel when it is likely to receive the updated information supporting the project application and the environmental impact assessment.