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The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is inviting public and Indigenous comment on a Suncor Energy Inc. project to open a new mine in order to extend the life of its base oil sands processing facilities near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.

The agency, which replaced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency last summer, says written comments will be accepted until March 23 to support the preparation of a summary of issues to be provided to Suncor.

It says those issues will aid in the preparation of a detailed project description which will be used to determine if a federal impact assessment is needed.

Suncor CEO Mark Little said last month the application was being made in preparation for when the current base oil sands mine is depleted in about 2035.

He said the project represents one of several options the Calgary-based company is considering and wouldn’t be officially approved for at least a decade.

He added filing early is “prudent” under the new federal regulatory system.

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