Ottawa approves construction of $9 billion Joslyn oil sands mine project

Photo courtesy of eryn.rickard via Creative Commons

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has given the approval for construction to begin for $9 billion Josyln North Mine Project in Alberta's oil sands.

Total E&P Canada, a subsidiary of France's Total SA will act as lead project operator and will partner with Alberta-based Suncor Energy, California-based Oxy Occidental Petroleum and Japan's Inpex Holdings.

Located 65 milometres northwest of Fort McMurray, the Josyln Asset Lease purchased by Total E&P Canada in 2005 and covers 221 square kilometres.

The Canadian Press has the story:


OTTAWA - The federal government has given the green light to a major mine project in Alberta's oilsands.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says construction can now start on Total E&P Canada's Joslyn North oilsands mine. The mine is about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

"There remains a two-week consultation period with local First Nations regarding implementation,'' Oliver told reporters in Ottawa.

"However, construction can now proceed.''

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) picked up a minority interest in Joslyn through a $1.75-billion deal with the French-owned E&P late last year.

Environmental groups were quick to blast the approval, particularly since it comes during a United Nations climate-change conference in South Africa.

The Canadian delegation has faced criticism at the Durban talks for refusing to sign on to a second commitment period under the expiring Kyoto Protocol, the only international treaty that sets binding targets for countries to lower their greenhouse-gas emissions.

"Approving Total's Joslyn tar sands mine during the UN climate summit in Durban is like poking the international process in the eye,'' Gillian McEachern of the group Environmental Defence said in a statement.

"This decision will mean another one and a half million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution each year, the equivalent to putting over 270,000 cars on the road.

"This represents the wrong direction if Canada is serious about tackling global warming. Canada's reputation has already been battered on the world stage because we're siding with big polluters instead of taking action on global warming, and this new tar sands mine will reinforce that.''

In January, a regulatory panel approved the Joslyn mine, albeit with 20 conditions related to the environmental and technical aspects of the project.

Oliver says the mine could mean as much as $9 billion in new capital investment.

The Joslyn project was first proposed six years ago and has gone through regulatory hurdles and faced opposition from environmental groups.

Oliver says the long lag shows the need for a more efficient regulatory system.

The minister says the oilsands are expected to provide thousands of jobs over the next 25 years.

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