10 things you need to know about the massive new oilsands mine that just got a green light

Alberta's oilsands North of Fort McMurray.

A review panel found the Frontier Mine would have ‘irreversible’ impacts on the environment and ‘significant’ adverse effects on Indigenous peoples, but recommended it be approved in the ‘public interest’ anyway

It recommended Teck’s Frontier Mine get the green light, despite finding it will have significant and permanent impacts on the environment.

The decision now moves to Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine Mckenna, who has until February to issue a decision.

Environmental concerns flagged by the panel include the removal of old-growth forests, the destruction or permanent alteration of fish habitat, the release of a large amount of carbon pollution and the loss of wetlands and areas of “high species diversity potential.”

But, overall, the panel found these impacts were outweighed by economic benefits, saying “the project is in the public interest.”

Here are 10 things you need to know about this proposed new mine.

1. It’s really, really big. 

The Frontier mine would be the furthest north in the oilsands, just 25 kilometres south of Wood Buffalo National Park. It would cover 24,000-hectares (roughly double the size of the City of Vancouver) and would produce 260,000 barrels of bitumen each day at its peak, making it one of the largest oilsands mines — if not the largest — to ever be built in Alberta. This would take up about half of the additional volume created by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Bison in Wood Buffalo National Park Louis Bockner

Bison in Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo: Louis Bockner / Sierra Club BC

The mine is expected to have a 41-year lifespan, taking us to 2081 by the time it’s completely shut down. By then, scientists have predicted that climate change will have already had far-reaching effects on Alberta — including dramatically shifting the average temperatures in Canadian cities. MORE

2. The Frontier mine will make it super difficult for Canada to meet its climate commitments.

At the Paris climate conference in 2015, Canada reaffirmed its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent (compared to 2005 levels) by 2030 and by 80 per cent by 2050.

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