This case was heard in the Federal Court of Canada.
Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters Inc. (“SPA”) applied for judicial review of certain provisions in the federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, which it argued were contrary to the federal Fisheries Act and were therefore unlawful. The Regulations had enabled Sandy Pond to be designated as a Tailings Impoundment Area for a mining operation being rune by Vale Inco Ltd. (“Vale”), allowing Vale to turn Sandy Pond into a tailings pond where the chemical residue from the company's mining operation would be collected and stored.
After reviewing the relevant laws and legal principles, the Court held that although turning Sandy Pond into a tailings pond would constitute harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat—an act prohibited under the Fisheries Act—the Fisheries Act also made it possible for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to authorize activities that are harmful to fish and fish habitat. The Court therefore concluded that the impugned Regulations were not in conflict with the Fisheries Act and were not unlawful. The application for judicial review was therefore dismissed.
To read related decisions, go to Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters Inc. v. Canada, 2011 FC 158 (CanLII) and Vale Canada Limited v. Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters Inc., 2011 FCA 129 (CanLII).