Vale is appealing a decision that gave it limited intervener status in the federal court case to save Sandy Pond, which has been approved as a tailings pond for the nickel processing facility at Long Harbour.
The case surrounding Sandy Pond also has implications for other pristine natural bodies of water across the country.
The Mining Association of Canada and the Mining Association of British Columbia are also appealing the Feb. 10 decision, which the Sandy Pond Alliance has counted as a victory.
Sandy Pond Alliance lawyer Owen Myers said if Vale and the associations get full intervener status, it would have the effect of extensively dragging out the case, which is against the federal government.
“Vale doesn’t like it. They just want to delay and postpone everything,” alliance chairman Ken Kavanagh said Tuesday.
Vale’s lawyers are pushing to have the case heard in Ontario, but that’s out of the question for the volunteer, non-profit organization, Kavanagh said.
“Their game plan is to beat us to death,” he said.
Vale officials did not respond for comment.
The Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters Inc. launched a federal court challenge in June, seeking the removal of metal mining effluent regulations from the Federal Fisheries Act.
The regulations allow the government to approve the use of lakes and ponds across the country as tailings dump sites.
But according to court documents Vale has filed, if the federal court ultimately agrees with the alliance, it will have to decide whether that retroactively stops Vale’s plans for Sandy Pond.
“Therefore there is no doubt that Vale is directly affected by the order sought by the Sandy Pond Alliance,” lawyers for Vale say in the notice to appeal.
Lawyers for Vale and the two mining associations insist Justice Elizabeth Heneghan “erred and/or exercised her discretion unreasonably” in limiting their evidence, witnesses and cross-examination.
Vale said it is being denied “natural justice and procedural fairness” because it’s not being granted right of appeal in the alliance’s case against the federal government.
The mining associations are also asking that restrictions be lifted on what exactly the intervenors are allowed to appeal when the Sandy Pond case is concluded.
Projects across Canada are at stake, the association argues.
“The application to intervene by the Mining Associations of Canada and the Mining Association of British Columbia clearly indicated that their concern extended to the interests of the mining industry generally, and in that regard to various members of the association with projects currently being considered with respect to Sect. 2 of the Mining Effluent Regulations,” the notice of appeal states.
The tailings, in the case of Sandy Pond, are a byproduct of hydromet processing. Concentrated nickel concentrate is to be shipped in from the Voisey’s Bay minesite, where it is processed to remove waste materials, including iron and sulfur.
Some 5.8-million tonnes of residue will be generated over the 15-year life of the project.
The alliance favours an artificial impoundment.
Kavanagh said his group has also been trying to find out if Vale has finalizing a habitat compensation plan for loss of that ecosystem.