B.C.‘s mines minister in Alaska to ease concerns (The Prince George Citizen)
British Columbia's Energy Minister Bill Bennett is in Alaska to soothe concerns about the province's mining industry, which he says is perceived by many Alaskans as a threat to their environment and salmon fishery.
Bennett will address the annual Alaska Miners Association convention in Anchorage, and meet with state officials, commercial and sport fishing organizations and aboriginal groups during his two-day visit.
"There is this impression in some parts of Alaska that our environmental standards, compliance and enforcement efforts are not as strong as theirs," Bennett said in an interview. "My purpose in going up there ... is to talk to folks about how our process actually works. How do you get a mine permitted in B.C."
The minister will be accompanied on his trip by Chad Day, the Tahltan Central Council president, along with senior government environment and energy officials.
Bennett said concerns about B.C.'s plans to expand its mining interests in the province's north have heightened since last summer's massive tailings pond failure at the Mount Polley mine in the central Interior.
"All of a sudden we have now a potential issue with Alaska given that many of these (mine) projects are located in B.C. watersheds that ultimately flow into Alaska watersheds," Bennett said. "They are hearing these stories about B.C.'s standards and they are hearing about Mount Polley."
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