New Brunswickers Persevere Through Gruelling Hearings

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

If a mining company was likely to have caused numerous family wells to go dry, changed the discharge of groundwater into local streams, caused sink holes in fields and yards, and horizontal and vertical shifts in the land surface – one would hope that the government responsible for regulating the industry would step up and support the citizens who were being affected.

Unfortunately, the citizens of Penobsquis NB have discovered that their provincial government prefers the side of the massive and highly profitable Potash Corp. Most of Potash Corp’s operations are in Saskatchewan but they also operate a large underground mine in New Brunswick.

Numerous recent problems have resulted in the Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis group seeking some relief through the New Brunswick Mining Commissioner – a seldom-used complaint mechanism. The Citizens are engaging in the Commissioner’s hearing with no financial or technical support from the government and are now having to proceed without legal counsel as they could not afford the lawyer bills. They have also had a difficult time getting access to government information because it signed a confidentiality agreement with the company.

During the hearings, the citizens have repeatedly observed friendly and collegial discussions between Potash Corp representatives and government officials – while they get the cold shoulder from both. The hearings, which have already lasted 23 days – are the longest any NB Mining Commissioner has presided over, and will continue in 2012.

See also CBC News: Mining hearing into Penobsquis fight nears record