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Alberta oilsands hearings to reconvene

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Cheers by environmental groups over the adjournment of a public hearing into a proposed oilsands mine in northern Alberta were short-lived.

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Cheers by environmental groups over the adjournment of a public hearing into a proposed oilsands mine in northern Alberta were short-lived.

On Tuesday, the Energy Resources Conservation Board announced it had halted the review into the Joslyn North Mine Project "to deliberate upon a number of important and complex rulings."

Those included the opposition to the project by aboriginal groups who said it would violate their treaty rights to use their traditional lands for subsistence and break constitutional guarantees of consultation.

But on Wednesday, the ERCB said the Mikisew Cree First Nation had withdrawn their objections and constitutional questions.

The board said it will reconvene the hearing in Fort McMurray on Sept. 28.

Groups such as the Sierra Club had argued the environmental assessment for the project didn't address the cumulative impact of all development in the oilsands region, as the law requires.

The capital cost of the Joslyn mine, which soared after it was first announced in 2005, was last estimated at $9 billion. The mine would provide about 1,300 jobs.

The Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes the city of Fort McMurray, has expressed concern about strains on community infrastructure.

Total officials say the project will have one of the lowest rates of greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil in the industry. Environmentalists say the mine will still emit 1.5 million tonnes of such gases a year — the equivalent of a quarter of a million cars.

 
 
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