B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett is spending this week in Alaska, his second trip this year to work out a formal agreement on mine regulation between the state and the province.
Bennett has meetings lined up with Alaska conservation groups, state legislators, commercial fishing representatives and Alaska Governor Bill Walker. With major mine projects proposed on both sides of the border and continued public concern in the wake of last year's Mount Polley tailings dam collapse near Quesnel, Bennett is hoping to have an agreement ready for Walker and Premier Christy Clark to sign later this year.
Several B.C. mine projects have opened or received permits to proceed this year in northwest B.C., where salmon-bearing river systems extend across the Alaska panhandle to the Pacific Ocean.
Concern for the future of clean water in Southeast Alaska brought together two seemingly unlikely groups - chefs and activists. Naturally, food was involved.
Salmon Beyond Borders, an organization that defends transboundary salmon rivers from mining effects, joined forces with the Rookery Café last week to welcome celebrity chefs from across the nation, the Juneau Empire reported on Friday. The goal for this two-night experience was to put local salmon in acclaimed hands, showcasing bounty from Alaska waters, while sharing stories of how such bounty can be lost forever when mining disasters strike.
A protest in Wrangell on Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of a mining disaster in Canada and sought to bring attention to mines being developed across the border from Southeast Alaska.
About 100 people marched through Wrangell behind a banner that read “Keep the Stikine Clean.”
They marked the one-year anniversary of a British Columbia mine disaster with a rally and water blessing to raise awareness for other B.C. mines that could pose a threat to Southeast Alaska’s rivers and salmon.
We all know that history tends to get repeated, but who knew it would happen this soon?
Tahltan Central Council President Chad Day said last week that the presence of a copper and gold mining company in Tahltan traditional territory 50 kilometres east of Telegraph Creek could mean a Sacred Headwaters-like struggle all over again.
This comes two months after the provincial government bought back coal licences from coal mining company Fortune Minerals to ease a decade-long conflict in the much contested Klappan, or Sacred Headwaters area.
Last week, Day and four Tahltan elders descended by helicopter into another area, this time Sheslay River where many Tahltan historically lived and where many burial sites still exist, to tell mining company Doubleview that they should stop doing exploratory drilling in a wide swath of land.
“It may not have received the publicity of the Headwaters and the Klappan, but now that we’re coming together and have made a decision to protect that area, it could easily turn into another situation like that,” said Day after returning from the Doubleview camp.
The first of several mines being developed across the border from Southeast Alaska has received its final environmental permit. Some Alaskans are worried the Red Chris and other British Columbia mines will impact salmon in Southeast.
The Red Chris copper and gold mine got final approval last week to discharge wastewater in the Stikine River watershed.
The final permit was delayed because of extra scrutiny by a First Nations group and the B.C. government. It was the last environmental hurdle for the mine to jump before being guaranteed full use of its tailings storage facility.
Earlier this month, Heather Hardcastle, a commercial fisherwoman from Juneau, Alaska met in Williams Lake, B.C. with members of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation. They shared a meal of wild Alaskan salmon that Hardcastle brought as a symbolic gesture: This fish was a reminder of all there was to lose.
After lunch, Hardcastle and her team of Alaska visitors boarded a helicopter and flew 25 minutes away to the site of the Mount Polley accident, the scene of a massive breach last August of its mine waste dam near the town of Likely, B.C.
The breach released millions of cubic metres of contaminated water into Quesnel Lake, which feeds into the Fraser River.
Nine months later, Jacinda Mack, a Xatsull woman from the Soda Creek reserve and one of many residents living near the path of the spill, invited the Alaskans to Williams Lake to see firsthand the main effect of that accident.
On the Fraser River, contamination from the mine breach threatened the run of Sockeye salmon that spawns in Quesnel Lake.
"We saw where [Mack] was raised, and where they used to fish on the Fraser where people fished for thousands of years, and they're not fishing there anymore. It's heartbreaking," Hardcastle said. "It's a stunning and gorgeous area but it was just so sad. It feels selfish to be thinking about us and our water, but it lit a fire under me. We have to do something."
(To read complete source article, click "The Tyee")
The full opening of the Red Chris copper and gold mine north on Hwy37 North has been delayed once again with an original May start pushed back to mid-June because of continued scrutiny by the ministry of the environment in conjunction with the Tahltan First Nation environmental review board.
The ministry granted a three-month temporary permit in February for the initial testing of the mine, owned by Imperial Metals, with particular emphasis on scrutinizing the tailings facility in light of concerns from the dam failure at Imperial’s Mt. Polley mine in the Cariboo last summer.
That permit expired this month and now Imperial has received another temporary permit with the government saying it fully expects to grant the company the full permit soon.
The $18 million paid by a provincial crown corporation to buy out a joint venture’s coal licences in the Klappan area in northwestern B.C. was reasonable, says an official from one of the companies in the joint venture.
The purchase of the 61 licences from the Arctos Anthracite Joint Venture owned by Fortune Minerals of Ontario and POSCO Canada, a Korean subsidiary, by BC Rail ends for now what has been more than a decade of controversy over development in the region.
Also known as the Sacred Headwaters, the Klappan is within Tahltan traditional territory and the Tahltan have objected to attempts at industrial development in the area used for an array of cultural practices.
Imperial Metals continues to bleed red ink as its main cash generator, the Mount Polley gold and copper mine, remains closed after a catastrophic failure last summer of its mine-waste dam.
The Vancouver-based mining company reported on Friday a loss in the first three months of 2015 of $33.4 million and revenues of $1.5 million.
Cash flow was negative, and dropped $26.4 million from the same three-month period in 2014.
“The decrease is primarily due to the absence of revenue from Mount Polley due to the suspension of mine operations,” Imperial Metals said in a news release announcing the first-quarter loss.
Imperial Metals is trying to get the go-ahead to restart the Mount Polley mine in the Central Interior, northeast of Williams Lake, and is awaiting a decision by the province, possibly in June.
Imperial Metals also expects to get increased cash flow from its recently-opened Red Chris gold and copper mine, but it had to cut back production in mid-April because of a shortage of clean water in its mine-waste storage facility.
Because of the production slowdowns at the new mine in northwestern B.C., it will take additional time to ramp up to full production, which means the company will not be able to meet a June 1, 2015 completion date for the mine, a requirement of banks holding some of the company’s debt.
When Mines Minister Bill Bennett met with reporters at the legislature late Monday afternoon, he announced an innovative solution to a dispute over some coal mining licences that also heralded the future for resource development in B.C.
The specifics involved some 61 privately held mineral licences, together forming the basis for an anthracite coal mine in the Klappan region in the northwest of the province.
Together they also formed the basis for a decade-long standoff between the two private company holders of the licences and the Tahltan First Nation, in whose traditional territory the mining property was located.
The Tahltan opposed the project, a determination manifested with blockades going back 10 years. Thus stalled, the rights-holders — Fortune Minerals and POSCO Canada — had no practical option to develop their property, acquired in good faith in 2002.
Bad feelings over those properties threatened to spill over into other developments in the region, one of the richest in terms of mineral potential in the province.
B.C.’s push to develop mines in its shared watersheds with Alaska is under increasing scrutiny from the American side of the border.
Concerns over multiple proposed metal mines near the southeast Alaska border has drawn Alaska’s Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott — and a coterie of commercial fishing, conservation and First Nation groups — to British Columbia this week.
In a visit that coincides with mining week in B.C., Mallott will meet with B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, Environment Minister Mary Polak, industry representatives and First Nation leaders.
The Alaskan fishing, conservation and aboriginal representatives are in B.C. to build alliances in their push for more scrutiny of the potential effects on Alaska waters that support a multi-billion-dollar fishery.
They believe that B.C.’s review process is not adequate and want Alaska to have a seat at a table, potentially through an international joint commission, to examine potential cumulative effects on water and salmon. The groups are also concerned about compensation if there is a disaster.
Dozens of Canadian and American environmental groups, First Nations and businesses, as well as scientists and individuals, have called on the B.C. government to end the use of storing mine waste under water and behind earth-and-rock dams.
But Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said that is not going to happen in British Columbia. “I don’t think that’s in the cards for B.C. — or any other province in Canada — to adopt a policy where all you can use to manage tailings is dry-stack tailings,” Bennett said in an interview.
The demand from the U.S. and Canadian groups — sent in a letter Tuesday to Bennett and B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak — came as a result of Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings dam failure last summer.
Monty Bassett, Documentary Filmmaker, 250-877-0961 or 250-847-5605
Chris Zimmer, Rivers Without Borders, 907-586-2166 or 907-988-8173, Zimmer@riverswithoutborders.org
Wade Davis, BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk, Professor of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Diverse group of Alaska Tribes, members of First Nations, businesses, organizations, scientists and individuals calls for end to wet mine tailings storage in B.C.
Today a large and diverse group of Canadians and Americans called on the British Columbia (B.C.) government to halt the permitting of wet tailings facilities for new and proposed mines in B.C. based on the Independent Expert Panel recommendations on the Mount Polley mine tailings disaster. Eighty-seven Alaska Native tribes, members of B.C. First Nations, businesses, prominent individuals, scientists, and conservation groups signed a letter to the B.C. government calling for a shift to newer and safer dry tailings storage technology.
“Wet tailings impoundments are an unacceptable financial and environmental liability now and for future generations,” said letter organizer Monty Bassett. “A failure by the B.C. government to stop further construction of wet tailings storage facilities would be a blatant disregard for safety and its own commitments to adopt Best Available Technologies and Practices. Dry stack is a proven tailings technology. Mining industry complaints about costs fly in the face of the Mount Polley report recommendation that costs should not trump safety.”
These concerns are based on recommendations by the Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel, which released a report on the Mount Polley tailings failure in January 2015. The report found that unless significant changes are made in the way B.C. tailings dams are designed and maintained, more failures can be expected. The report’s principal recommendation calls for an end to outdated “hundred year old” wet tailings storage and conversion to “dry stack” tailings systems. According to page 120 of the report, “Improving technology to ensure against failures requires eliminating water both on and in the tailings: water on the surface, and water contained in the interparticle voids. Only this can provide the kind of failsafe redundancy that prevents releases no matter what.”
“We cannot afford another Mount Polley, especially at mines like Red Chris or the proposed Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM), which are much bigger and will have more toxic acidic tailings,” said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders. “Unless there are major changes to B.C. tailings storage, we will soon see more dangerous dams built across B.C. and in the headwaters of major transboundary salmon rivers such as the Stikine, Taku and Unuk. These tailings dumps will be toxic time bombs poised upstream of vital salmon habitat.”
Despite the Mount Polley report’s recommendations, just days after the Panel released its report, B.C.’s Ministry of Energy and Mines issued an “interim operating” permit for a wet-tailings facility at the Red Chris mine in northwestern B.C., in the headwaters of the transboundary, salmon-rich Stikine River. The interim permit expires May 4, 2015. The Red Chris facility, also owned by Imperial Metals, is similar to the one that failed at Imperial Metal’s Mount Polley mine in August, releasing almost 25 million cubic meters (6.6 billion gallons) of mine waste water and tailings into the Fraser River watershed.
“It is reckless for B.C. to permit the kind of outdated watered tailings facility at Red Chris that failed at Mount Polley and that the expert panel specifically recommends against,” said Zimmer. “The panel called Mount Polley a ‘loaded gun’ and B.C. is loading the chamber at Red Chris.”
According to an independent expert report commissioned by Imperial Metals, “any failure of the Red Chris impoundment will likely have a much more significant environmental impact than the Mount Polley failure.” This is also true of other mines such as KSM. The proposed KSM tailings facility is roughly six times that of Mount Polley’s.
“We know that a dam failure at mines like Red Chris or KSM could have far worse consequences than Mount Polley, yet the B.C. government and the mining industry are avoiding the one thing that could reduce the risk of such a failure,” said Zimmer. “The costs of such failures to downstream communities could dwarf the costs of implementing changes now.”
The lessons of Mount Polley show that tailings failures are very difficult and expensive to clean up, there are no insurance policies for tailings dams, mine company bonding doesn’t pay for accidents or disasters, and there are no clear mechanisms to compensate injured parties. Industry often can’t pay, which means either B.C. taxpayers end up paying for substantial environmental liabilities, or cleanup and compensation doesn’t happen.
“What we are saying is to do Red Chris right,” said author Wade Davis, who owns a lodge at the base of Mount Todagin where Red Chris is situated. “In the wake of Mount Polley, how can we trust wet tailings storage? Can we not expect the safest mine technology possible from Imperial Metals?”
The letter was sent to Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines; Mary Polak, Minister of Environment; Al Hoffman, Chief Inspector of Mines; Diane Howe, Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines; Norm MacDonald, MLA, Opposition Critic for Energy and Mines; and Doug Donaldson, MLA, Stikine.
Imperial Metals Corp., owner of the mine that caused Canada's worst mining disaster in history, has started limited production at an even bigger mine, which could be a threat to Alaska's $2-billion annual salmon and tourism business.
Meanwhile, Imperial has applied for a temporary restart of Mount Polley Mine, where a tailings storage pond failed in August 2014, spewing 4.3 billion gallons of water and 10.3 million cu yd of mine tailings and construction waste into two lakes and a creek that are part of the Fraser River watershed in British Columbia.
The Mount Polley spillage affected Quesnel Lake—a fjord-type lake in which salmon spawn—dumping chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, silver, vanadium and zinc. Hazeltine Creek, between Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake, got those same minerals as well as arsenic, manganese, mercury, nickel, thallium and titanium.
However, the other British Columbia mines—under construction, in startup or still undergoing assessment—pose a greater threat: acids that are common in copper and gold mining and other metals toxic to aquatic life.
The effects from Mount Polley "may take years to be felt by salmon," thanks to the metals bound to sediment settling in the lake bottom, says Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society. The greater danger, he says, is with the other mines.
"Even though Mount Polley was one of the biggest environmental disasters in Canadian history, the impact would be much worse from a catastrophic failure at a project like Red Chris and KSM [Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell] that are acid- draining, with much larger tailings impoundments," he says.
"KSM, which was quietly approved by the federal government over the Christmas holiday, would have two tailings impoundments around the same size as Hoover Dam," he adds.
It’s not often the Juneau Empire offers a rebuttal to a submitted column. Waging a back-and-forth war of words isn’t fair for the other party. We buy ink by the barrel and have dedicated staff to get the word out online as well.
However, we must respond to the Feb. 24 My Turn penned by Bill Bennett, the Minister of Mines for British Columbia.
Let us start off by addressing the first portion of Mr. Bennett’s piece when he states it was “unfortunate your editorial has seized upon the Mount Polley mine tailings storage facility failure to undermine the long tradition of respectful relations and co-operation between British Columbia and Alaska on mining development and environmental protection.”
Perhaps Mr. Bennett has forgotten about the Tulsequah Chief Mine. Southeast Alaska has not forgotten.
The Tulsequah Chief Mine, located south of Juneau on the Taku River just across the Canadian border, has leached acid runoff into the Taku River since its closure in the 1950s. The Taku boasts notable salmon runs, the same runs which in turn give jobs to many commercial fishermen. There were efforts to revitalize the mine, but those failed for financial reasons and to this day acid continues to taint the Taku.
Alaskans — Native tribes, commercial fishermen, local governments and ordinary residents — feel it is not at all respectful to leave a mine in ruin, leaching acid runoff. Nor do we feel this is in any way an example of “environmental protection.” Years ago, Alaska’s leaders tried to have a dialogue on cleaning up the mine. Former Gov. Sarah Palin and others were largely ignored in their efforts, as this newspaper and others reported at the time.
Tahltan Nation members are preparing for a vote that will determine if and how the nation will be involved with a mine in its traditional territory.
A referendum is scheduled next month for ratification of a co-management agreement between the Tahltan Central Council, Tahltan Band, Iskut Band, and the Red Chris Development Company related to the Red Chris mine.
The Red Chris mine north of here up Hwy37 North is making the most of a temporary environmental permit and has begun both processing and shipping copper concentrate out the Port of Stewart.
“The mill processed just over 193,000 tonnes in February producing approximately 2,400 tonnes of copper concentrate,” says a release on mine owner Imperial Metals’ website last week.
The provincial environment ministry had granted Imperial an effluent discharge permit in early February, a three month permit expiring in May that allows the mine to operate its ore-grinding mill while testing the tailings facility.
The company is required to show that the tailings facility is holding up before getting the final permit.
The company release says it is processing the ore slowly to begin with but did not mention testing the tailings facility.
British Columbia officials, who have granted Imperil Metals an interim permit for a new tailings facility at the Red Chris copper/gold prospect, said Feb. 24 that the company would have to prove the tailings facility performs to design specifications.
Once Imperil Metals has met that criteria to the satisfaction of Chief Inspector of Mines Al Hoffman, the mine would be issued an approval to continue to operate its North Tailings dam facility only, and it will be contingent on the company being able to construct the additional lifts as required by the design engineers, said David Haslam, a spokesman for the provincial Ministry of Energy and Mines.
Haslam also said, in an email response to specific questions regarding the interim permit, that since the current approval expires in May, the company must provide this information for a decision before then.
(To read complete source article, click "The Cordova Times")
In the wake of the release of an independent expert engineering investigation and review into the Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia, a watershed-based conservation group is voicing concerns over approval of a new permit for another BC mine.
Chris Zimmer, Alaska campaign director for Rivers Without Borders, says he questions the provincial government’s decision to grant Imperil Metals, of Vancouver, BC an interim permit for filling and testing its watered tailings facility at the Red Chris Mine, a copper and gold property in Northwest BC. That tailings facility is similar to the one at Mount Polley, which the independent report recommends against, he said.
The lengthy Mount Polley report predicts more dam failures if reforms are not implemented. Specifically, on Page 118 of the report, reviewers said “if the inventory of active tailings dams in the province remains unchanged, and performance in the future reflects that in the past, then on average there will be two failures every 10 years and six every 30. In the face of these prospects, the Panel firmly rejects any motion that business as usual can continue.”
The Red Chris mine sits above the nine lakes of the headwaters of the Iskut River in the Iskut-Stikine watershed, a major salmon producer in the transboundary region.
The United Tribal Transboundary Working Group, a coalition of many of Southeast Alaska’s tribes, issued a press release earlier this week saying they were “outraged” by Imperial Metals, the owner of Mount Polley mine, opening the Red Chris in the Stikine River watershed just days after the Mount Polley review panel released a report calling for change in British Columbia’s tailings dams.
“The customs, traditions and way of life of Southeast Alaska’s first people exist in large part because of our waters. Large-scale mines upstream from our communities pose a threat that would change how we define ourselves and how we live our lives. The Mount Polley mine tailings dam breach last August in central British Columbia (B.C.) is a prime example of how our lives could be changed forever by mining disasters,” the group wrote.
Tahltan Nation president Chad Day says that in keeping with an agreement signed between it and Imperial Metals last August the council has granted permission for the company to begin releasing effluent into its tailings pond.
“Although our Nation still has some questions about the Red Chris mine, we also know that the mine is almost ready to open,” said a statement from Day....
... The third party review from October 2014 noted loose glacial deposits under the tailings facility that needed to be studied to verify its stability.
A government review of the Mount Polley mine released earlier this month noted glacial till causing the breach of that tailings facility wall.
The recommendations called for the modifications of the tailing impoundment wall in one area as well as installing a drainage blanket however the mines ministry said last week that no major modifications had been made to the design.
AMID controversy surrounding the Mount Polley mine dam failure report released last Friday, mine owner Imperial Metals has been successful in receiving a permit to begin filling a tailings facility at its Red Chris gold and copper project northeast of Terrace.
“Red Chris has received an interim approval to operate the TSF (Tailings Storage Facility) in order to test the mill but not to go into production,” said a statement from the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
The permit is effective from February through May, after which Red Chris “will have to apply to the Chief Inspector [of Mines] for approval and will have to show that the TSF has performed as designed.”
Initial operations of the mine, which was scheduled to go into service last year, were on hold as the company financed a third party review of the tailings facility using a company chosen by the Tahltan Central Council which acts as the governing voice on Tahltan traditional territory.
A provincial government report that found the tailings pond dam at Mount Polley collapsed because it was built on a weak foundation has heightened concerns in Alaska about British Columbia’s mine safety standards.
Commercial fishermen, native organizations and the mayors of two Alaska communities say they are worried the Red Chris mine, now being built in northern British Columbia by the same company that owns Mount Polley, poses a similar risk.
(To read complete source article, click "The Globe and Mail")
The National Congress of American Indians, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Alaska Native Sisterhood have added their voices to those calling for protections of salmon and eulachon rivers that flow from British Columbia and into Alaska.
Southeast Alaskan fishermen, tourism operators and environmental groups, as well as some municipalities and Native organizations like the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, have been vocal in their concern about British Columbia’s mining development plans, forming the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Working Group, traveling to D.C. to meet with Alaska’s Congressional delegation and environmental regulators, and holding many meetings sharing their concerns.
“The health of our rivers and streams is paramount for Alaska Natives and American Indians, especially those who rely on our traditional and customary ways of life. Since rivers do not recognize the arbitrary boundaries drawn on maps, it is the responsibility of the United States and Canada to work together on maintaining a healthy ecosystem and clean water for the protection of all of our subsistence resources,” said Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director of NCAI, in a press release.
The tiny community of Iskut along Hwy37 North celebrated a switch from diesel-generated power to hydro-electric power Dec. 18.
And thanks to 400 feet of LED icicle lights provided by B.C. Hydro for the occasion which were then strung up at the community’s administration building, the switch over marked the end of years of dependence upon diesel generation.
“It was a split second,” said Iskut Band operations and maintenance manager Henry Carlick of the event which took place at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 18.
“The lights blinked for a few seconds. We thought it was going to take time but I guess it was just a flick of the switch and it was done,” he said.
The hydro-electric power flowing to Iskut stems from BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line, a 344km 287kv line running north of Terrace to a substation at Bob Quinn on Hwy37 North. A second 287kv line, called the Iskut extension, then runs 93km north of Bob Quinn to another substation at Tatogga Lake.
The opening of the Imperial Metals Red Chris copper and gold mine has been delayed until the new year as the company continues to seek a final provincial environmental permit and negotiates with the Tahltan Central Council over recommendations contained in a review of the facility’s tailings pond.
THE PROVINCIAL government is giving the Tahltan Central Council $500,000 to buy into a small run-of-river project on the Iskut River owned by Calgary-based energy company AltaGas.
The Volcano Creek project, rated at 16 megawatts, has just begun producing power which is being sold to BC Hydro, entering the provincial grid through the crown corporation's Northwest Transmission Line.
Provincial and Tahltan officials were in Terrace this morning releasing details of the business deal through the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund which will see the Tahltan earn a share of the revenues being paid by BC Hydro for the power through a 60-year purchase agreement with AltaGas.
While TV cameras focused their lenses on the 100-plus arrests on Burnaby Mountain last month, at the same time, a very similar Kinder-Morgan-style drama was playing out in a remote alpine area of northwest B.C. known as the Sacred Headwaters.
That’s where Tahltan First Nations Elders called the Klabona Keepers, who are self-proclaimed guardians of that pristine wilderness, were hit in late November with a court order granted to Imperial Metals. The injunction forbids the mine opponents from continuing to interfere with the $600-million Red Chris copper and gold mine that intends operate for 30 years.
But rallying to raise money for the Elders' legal defence is David Suzuki’s grandson, Tamo Campos – who came to recent public attention after his arrest on Burnaby Mountain. The young man is also quickly gaining a reputation for the same oratory skills of his famous grandfather.
British Columbia's ambition of opening new mines in the province's north has raised fears in neighbouring Alaska where environmental and aboriginal groups say the industry's unchecked development threatens their salmon and tourism industries.
Tribal leaders and salmon-protection advocates gathered at a Bureau of Indian Affairs conference in Anchorage Tuesday, and high on the agenda was the impact of B.C. mineral developments on the multibillion-dollar Alaskan industries.
Conference delegates called on the U.S. State Department to use the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty to activate the International Joint Commission, hold boundary dispute hearings and discuss the important salmon waterways, the communities they support and the risks they face from potential mine contamination.
The Government of British Columbia has issued a temporary order under Section 7 of the Environment and Land Use Act to extend the deferral of decisions on permits and permit amendments on existing coal tenures in an area of the Klappan until March 31, 2015, as well as on new coal tenures in the Klappan until Dec. 1, 2015.
Red Chris mine owner Imperial Metals has been granted an injunction preventing a Tahltan group known as the Klabona Keepers from blocking access to the property north on Hwy37 North near Iskut.
The injunction, granted by Mr. Justice Robert Punnett of the B.C. Supreme Court this afternoon following a two-day hearing, prevents the activist group from blocking access to the mine until another claim against the Klabona Keepers is resolved in which Red Chris is seeking damages.
The injunction means that an enforcement order can be sought by the RCMP if access to the Red Chris gold and copper mine is impeded by the protesters.
AltaGas says the second of what will be three run-of-river hydro-electric projects north of here is producing power.
The Volcano Creek project along the Iskut River, rated at 16 megawatts, had its powerhouse and high voltage switchyard completed this month and is now delivering power to the provincial grid through BC Hydro's Northwest Transmission Line.
The Keystone XL controversy may currently be consuming most of the U.S. government’s attention, but it’s not the only environmental crisis-in-the-making coming our way via Canada. A pro-development push north of the border is paving the way for large-scale mining projects located at key watersheds. Downstream in Alaska, commercial fishermen, conservation groups and others who fear for the mines’ potential to damage their homes and livelihoods can do nothing but watch.
Emblematic among these perceived threats is the KSM (Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell) mine, a British Columbia project in the transboundary Unuk River watershed. Alaska, the United State’s last major remaining source of wild-caught salmon, boasts five species of salmon; all can be found in the Unuk, which boasts one of the region’s largest runs of king, or chinook, salmon. On the U.S. side of the border, the Unuk flows into the Misty Fjords National Monument, a federal wilderness area.
KSM is somewhat uniquely imposing: if built, it would become one the world’s largest open-pit mines, capable of producing billions of pounds of copper and millions of pounds of silver, gold and molybdenum. It will be located less than 20 miles upstream from the U.S. border. In both size and controversy, KSM rivals Pebble Mine, the proposed open-pit copper mine currently the topic of fierce debate in Alaska. The difference here is that the ultimate decision whether or not to build the mine is largely out of Alaskans’ hands....
... KSM is terrifying based on its size alone, but add it to the number of other large, open-pit mines being fast-tracked toward approval, and the risks multiply. In 2011, Premiere Christy Clark, who trumpets mining as the province’s “comeback industry,” pledged to build eight new mines and expand nine others: right now, five projects in total are pending along the Taku , Stikine and Unuk watersheds, all of which are incredibly important, and delicate, salmon habitats. The same company behind the Mt. Polley disaster, Imperial Metals, has anther major project pending at a main tributary to the Stikine River watershed, “one of the largest salmon producers in the Tongass National Forest.” After Imperial Metals said it had no plans to slow down production in light of what happened at Mt. Polley, indigenous Canadians blockaded the mine in protest.
An independent review of Imperial Metals’ Red Chris mine tailings dam design demanded by the Tahltan First Nation after the Mount Polley collapse has identified concerns.
The Klohn Crippen Berger review — paid for by Imperial Metals — found that the design is feasible if constructed properly.
However, a major design issue is the “high permeability” of the soils the two major earthen dams will be built on, which means if a fine-grained “tailings blanket” does not stop seepage, it could cause stability problems and allow significant water to leak from the storage facility, according to the review obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
KCB is recommending that during early stages of building the tailings storage facility that Imperial Metals’ designers need to monitor the water balance carefully “to prove their design concept.”
In making 22 recommendations, KCB noted that “any failure of the Red Chris impoundment will likely have a much more significant environmental impact than the Mount Polley failure.”
Bill Bennett, British Columbia’s minister of energy and mines, traveled to Anchorage last week to tell Alaskans what they already know: Fish are important.
Bennett spoke at the Alaska Miners Association conference in part to reassure Alaskans that British Columbia takes mine safety seriously.
Bennett’s message isn’t important — it’s what we expect to hear from someone who works in a government interested in industrial development. What’s more important to Alaskans is the messenger.
When was the last time a British Columbian minister traveled to Alaska in such a prominent way?
The enormous Mount Polley Mine tailings dam failed Aug. 4, spilling millions of gallons of potentially toxic material into the Fraser River watershed. Even before that dam’s collapse, Alaskans had been alarmed about the progress of a series of mammoth mines just over the border from Alaska. The Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell Mine, for example, is planned for the headwaters of the Unuk River, which flows across the border and empties into the Pacific Ocean between Wrangell and Ketchikan. Each summer, the Unuk and other transboundary rivers host countless salmon and their eggs. The Mount Polley Mine disaster was a perfect example of Alaskans’ fears come to life.
Roaring at seven knots up the U.S. side of the Stikine River, a grizzly bear of a man named Mark Galla steers our jet boat through a gauntlet of protruding logs, attempting to point out the exact point at which Alaska becomes British Columbia. Against the vastness of the surrounding wilderness, the border is invisible, almost arbitrary. Until recently, most Alaskans couldn't see it either.
That all changed in August when YouTube video highlights of the Mount Polley mine disaster circulated through panhandle towns like Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell. Media from across the state drew comparisons between Mount Polley and the tailings dams that could one day accompany the half-dozen open pit mines proposed in the wild river watersheds that Alaska and B.C. share -- the Unuk, Taku and, more than anywhere else, the Stikine.
(To read complete source article, click "The Tyee")
Throughout history, arguments over land and water usages have run the gamut from tussles over fences with next-door neighbors to shootouts over interstate grazing rights in the old west. But when land and water rights pit one country against another, that’s when things really get tricky.
That is the situation in Southeast Alaska, where residents find themselves downstream from several massive open pit gold and copper mines being developed in bordering British Columbia. The mines are located in the headwaters of some of Southeast’s largest and most productive wild salmon rivers: the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk.
Canada operates under different permitting and environmental rules than the U.S. and currently, no safeguards are in place to protect Alaska waters and fisheries from chemical and heavy-metal contaminants leaching from the B.C. mines. Recall the Aug. 4 tailings dam breach at the Mt. Polley mine, and it’s easy to understand why Southeast residents are seeing red.
A group of Tahltan and others who had been blocking access to the nearly-completed Red Chris copper mine owned by Imperial Metals have, for now, stopped their action.
The decision earlier this week followed the granting to Imperial Metals of an interim junction to stop the blockade and, as of Oct. 14, an enforcement order which could have resulted in the arrest of people at the blockade.
“When 15 of our elders were arrested in 2005 to protect the Tl’abane [Klappan area] it had huge impacts on our community. Although we were willing to make this sacrifice again, to protect our elders and children from this trauma, we’ve decided to not be arrested,” the Tahltan group known as the Klabona Keepers said in an Oct. 14 statement.
“Instead, we will fight the injunction in court and are calling on Imperial Metals and government to come meet with us to discuss the matter under our own jurisdiction.”
ELECTED just this past summer as president of the Tahltan Central Council, 27-year-old Chad Day has come under heavy criticism for comments made about a Tahltan faction that's been blocking access to the nearly-completed Red Chris copper mine which is located on Tahltan traditional territory.
Through Facebook, Day referred to the Klabona Keepers as a "handful of Tahltans [who] have turned this entire situation into a circus."
That prompted members of the Klabona Keepers, which have been mounting the blockade because they're worried about the mine's tailings pond design, to separate themselves from the central council.
Imperial Metals has been granted a temporary court injunction against a group of Tahltan and others who are blocking access to the company's nearly-completed Red Chris copper mine in northwestern B.C.
The enforcement order part of the injunction is to take effect Oct. 14.
The company was in Vancouver Supreme Court today arguing its case that the blockade is preventing workers and supplies from getting to the site.
The interim injunction could clear the way for police to arrest the blockaders who consist of a Tahltan group calling itself the Klabona Keepers, members of the Secwepemc First Nation, and other environmental activists. The blockade has been up since Sept. 29.
The Secwepemc First Nation has the Mount Polley copper mine, also owned by Imperial Metals, within its territory and it was the Aug. 4 failure of that mine's tailings pond which is driving the blockade at Red Chris.
Blockaders say they don't have confidence in the Red Chris tailings pond design.
The Klabona Keepers say they are accepting their imminent arrests if a court application is granted for an injunction to order the group to take down its blockade at the access road to the Red Chris mine up north.
In a message sent from the Tahltan blockade of the Red Chris mine access road from Tamo Campos – a representative of the activist group Beyond Boarding working with the Klabona Keepers, a faction of the Tahltan Nation – supporters were informed about the court injunction and what they could do before it takes place.
“Currently, we are waiting to find out today or within the next week if/when the court injunction will be served,” said the message late last week.
“From then, we should have 24 hours before arrests will be made.”
On Friday, Imperial Metals, the company responsible for Canada’s largest-ever mining waste spill, served an injunction application to indigenous protesters blocking roads to its Red Chris copper and gold mine near Iskut, British Columbia.
A group of Tahltan First Nation elders known as the Klabona Keepers have blocked access to the mine for the second time in two months over concerns that Red Chris is too similar to Mount Polley, a sister mine that spewed 24 million cubic meters of toxic sludge and wastewater into one of the province’s biggest salmon spawning lakes on August 4.
A mining company being blockaded by a group of Tahltan has taken its next step in the conflict, according to protestors blockading the Red Chris Mine.
On October 3, 2014, Imperial Metals requested an injunction notice to remove the Klabona Keepers elders and supporters from blockading the road to the Red Chris mine in Tahltan territory, said a press release from the Keepers the evening of Oct. 3.
Once the court injunction is served, the elders and supporters will have 24 hours to leave the area or they will face arrest, continued the release.
The collapse of a tailings dam on Aug. 4, at a big British Columbia mine, not only contaminated key salmon habitat but breached the credibility of B.C.’s government.
The province’s lack of transparency, and lackadaisical attitude toward warning signs at the Mount Polley Mine, should be a wakeup call on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.
Why is this of concern to Washington or Alaska? What does a huge release of water and metal-laden tailings into Quesnel Lake have to do with the United States?
Plenty! Just look closely at a map of Southeast Alaska.
Big mines are being planned or on the verge of opening in the Stikine-Iskut, Unuk and Taku River systems, vitally important Alaska salmon streams all of which have their headwaters in British Columbia.
A group of First Nations protestors has set up a blockade at the access to Imperial Metals' Red Chris mine.
The mine, which is scheduled to open this year, has raised concern because the design of its earthen-damed tailings pond is the same as the one at the Mount Polley mine near Williams Lake, also operated by Imperial, which broke open under pressure in August, spilling toxic material and sediment into nearby lakes.
The Red Chris mine is located about 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake on Tahltan territory and is focused on gold and copper extraction.
The highest levels of corporate integrity and responsibility should be the standard for any new mine in Canada, and especially for one with as much potential as Imperial Metals' Red Chris project, situated at the heart of the Sacred Headwaters in remote northwestern British Columbia. Imperial Metals has acknowledged that all exploration, regulation and construction costs will be reclaimed within two years of the mine's anticipated three decades of active production.
If true this immense and certain profitability ought to allow both the company and the government to push the limits of excellence on every front, assuring the public at every step in the process that costs and/or expediency will never deflect them from their goal of building an exemplary mine. It is in the interests of all of the mining industry and both federal and provincial governments that such high standards be set for Red Chris. Civic and corporate responsibility aside, self-interest alone would suggest that Imperial ought to build a great mine.
Consider the optics of Imperial's immediate dilemma....
(To read the complete source article, click "The Tyee")
A First Nations group protesting a copper and gold mining site in the heart of the Sacred Headwaters of northwest B.C. was responded to by RCMP officers with rifles on Friday afternoon, according to several eyewitness accounts.
Members of the “Klabona Keepers” have occupied a drill site in Tahltan territory, near Iskut B.C. for several days. The drill is operated by Firesteel Resources of Vancouver.
After a summer of protests aimed at mining companies, members of the Tahltan Nation in northern B.C. say they have shut down an exploratory drilling operation by taking over the site.
“HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!!!!” states a Monday night posting on the Facebook page for Tahltan elders. “The Klabona Keeper members are occupying a black hawk drill pad above Ealue Lake!!!”
The elders’ group, which is based in Iskut just south of Dease Lake, has staged several protests in the area in recent years blocking resource companies from working in a place known as the Sacred Headwaters. The region is highly valued by the Tahltan because it holds the headwaters of three important salmon rivers – the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.
(To read complete source article, click "The Globe and Mail")
The B.C. government has placed a temporary hold on coal exploration permits in the Klappan, a northern area where the local First Nation has protested, blockaded and is going to court to protect.
The order relates to existing coal tenures in the Mount Klappan area, lands the Tahltan First Nation calls the Sacred Headwaters, where the Skeena, Stikine and Nass rivers meet.
The First Nation and the provincial government have been working on a shared vision for development of land and resources in the area for a year, and last December the government deferred any decisions on new coal licences.
(To read complete source article, click "The Globe and Mail")
Imperial Metals (TSX:III) announced August 26 that it has entered into an agreement with the Tahltan Central Council (TCC) over the Red Chris mine project.
The arrangement will see a detailed independent engineering review of the tailings impoundment at the mine to make sure it meets world-class standards in terms of design, engineering, operation and construction.
The third-party reviewer will be chosen by the TCC. If any material issues are discovered, Imperial has agreed to address them in a way that is satisfactory to the First Nations group.
Imperial Metals is facing pressure from First Nations to halt its other projects in the aftermath of the Mount Polley mine collapse in central B.C. last week.
The Neskonlith are set to issue a hand-delivered eviction notice to the company Thursday over the development of the Ruddock Creek zinc and lead mine on their traditional territory in the Thompson-Okanagan.
And some members of the Tahltan Nation in northwestern B.C. have called for a halt to construction at Imperial’s $500-million Red Chris copper and gold mine. The members of the Tahltan, which include elder’s group the Klabona Keepers, want an independent review of the tailings pond and dam. They say they have been blockading a road into the mine site, but it is not clear what effect that has had on construction.
(To read complete source article, click "The Vancouver Sun")
TATOGGA LAKE -- The ongoing blockade of Red Chris mine in Iskut, B.C., was planned last Thursday at a twilight meeting of the Kablona Keepers -- a group of Tahltan elders and families who live in the area, near the headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena rivers.
By meeting's end, a decision had been reached to try and halt operations at Red Chris by cutting off the operation's supply corridors.
The recent tailings pond breach at another Imperial Metals operated mine, Mount Polley, had been the last straw for the Tahltan, who feared a similar disaster might strike their territory. Red Chris is a $500-million gold and copper mine on the Tahltan's traditional territory that produces toxic tailing stored in a constructed pond much like the one that disastrously collapsed a week ago near Likely, B.C.
(To read complete source article, click "The Tyee")
A group of Tahltan elders have set up a blockade of Imperial Metals' Red Chris Mine.
The action by the Klabona Keepers is in response to the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach that leaked mining waste into Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. Aug. 5, resulting in a drinking water ban and state of emergency in that area.
Imperial Metals owns the Mount Polley Mine. The company's Red Chris Mine, a gold-copper mine in development and slated to open this year, is located about 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake on Tahltan territory.
“In response to the Mount Polley Mine tailings disaster and our serious concerns over the pending Imperial Metals' Red Chris Mine, the Klabona Keepers from the Tahltan Nation will blockade the Red Chris property Friday Aug 8, 2014 at 1 p.m. Pacific time,” said the release put out by the Klabona Keepers in the morning of Aug. 8.
The blow that the Mount Polley mine tailings-pond collapse has dealt to the confidence of B.C. First Nations in mine safety may be the biggest challenge facing the industry following the incident. Mine owner Imperial Metals Corp. experienced an immediate financial hit — its share price plummeted about 40 per cent on news of the failure and of the mine’s indefinite closure, slashing the market value of the company to $760 million from $1.26 billion before the spill.
Mining is a key pillar of Premier Christy Clark’s economic platform, and one new mine slated to be opened later this year is Imperial’s $500-million Red Chris copper-gold mine in B.C.’s remote northwest.
But a statement posted on the website of the region’s Tahltan Central Council late Wednesday suggested Imperial could also be facing trouble on the Red Chris front as a result of the Mount Polley situation.
The online message from Tahltan Central Council president Chad Day states that Red Chris does not have all necessary permits to open, and that an impacts-and-benefits agreement with the Tahltan First Nation has yet to be signed.
Within hours of a June 26 Supreme Court of Canada decision confirming aboriginal title of the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, the Tahltan First Nation announced it too planned to launch an aboriginal rights and title claim.
And in both cases, the main drivers behind the push for recognition of their rights to land in their territories are mines that neither First Nation want.
Around 300 people packed the Juneau Arts and Culture Center Wednesday night to hear author and National Geographic explorer Wade Davis, Tahltan first nation leaders, and Tlingit and Haida leaders speak on the sacred headwaters of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass rivers. The conversation led way to the threats posed to fish and Native ways of life by “the gold-rush mentality” of Canadian industrial development.
One major result of the Tahltan leaders’ visit was a Tlingit, Haida and Tahltan commitment to dissolve the “imaginary line” of the boundary and to work together on transboundary mines and other issues.
A British Columbia First Nation whose territory includes some of the province's most majestic and resource rich lands signed revenue-sharing agreements Tuesday with the provincial government while declaring its fierce determination to oppose developments considered threats to their homelands.
Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee called signing two clean energy hydro-electric projects in northwest B.C. historic, and said it signals that the Tahltan people are willing to embrace development — but only on their terms.
(To read complete source article, click "The Province")
By: Annita McPhee, President, Tahltan Central Council
In a pristine corner of northwestern B.C. called the Klappan, a drama is unfolding that might seriously compromise the relationship between First Nations and the booming natural resource sector in B.C.
The 4,000 square-kilometre region southeast of Iskut is called the Sacred Headwaters by Tahltan people because it is the source of three wild salmon rivers -- the Skeena, Nass and Stikine -- and because it has been full of life for thousands of years. Tahltan people consider the Klappan to be Earth's birthplace and it's a well-travelled, traditional hunting ground that carries significant cultural, spiritual and social values for the Tahltan Nation.
(To read the complete source article, click "Huffington Post")
BC Hydro has been cited for a slew of non-compliance problems related to ongoing construction of two major transmission lines, according to freedom of information documents obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
The documents identify a lack of sediment controls, potential for the spread of invasive plant species, smouldering burn piles during a fire prohibition, a stop-work order to prevent stream damage, lack of environmental monitoring and oversight, and both heavy equipment and felled trees found in creeks.
The problems are connected to the 344-kilometre Northwest Transmission Line being built from Terrace to Bob Quinn Lake and the 247-kilometre Interior to Lower Mainland Transmission Line from Merritt to Coquitlam. The projects are due for completion this spring and 2015, respectively.
(To read complete source article, click "The Vancouver Sun")
A mining company has been banned from entering Tahltan Nation communities in northern B.C. without first asking for permission from leaders.
The company, Fortune Minerals, said it agrees with the proposition and will be asking permission to enter reserve lands in the future, though the area where they are proposing their coal mine is located in Tahltan traditional territory and not on reserve land.
British Columbia sees aggressive development of its natural resources as a way to improve its economy; Southeast Alaska fishermen, tribes and environmental organizations see it as a threat to their fisheries and way of life.
Southeast Alaska commercial fishermen are in Washington DC this week seeking help from the federal government to protect their region’s fisheries and tourism industries from potential water pollution from large-scale Canadian mines.
The Tahltan First Nation appears close to supporting the Red Chris Mine in northwestern British Columbia.
“The Tahltan are not opposed to Red Chris, Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee said in a written statement. “In fact they are working toward an agreement on that mine and we hope to have an announcement within the next couple of weeks."
Tahltan was previously against the copper/gold project led by Imperial Metals.
A remote area of northwest British Columbia considered sacred by aboriginals and resource rich by mining companies has received a reprieve from potential coal-mining activities with a government order that puts new coal tenures on hold for one year.
(To read complete article, click "The Vancouver Sun")
A juggernaut of industrial development in northwestern BC is overwhelming environmental groups, First Nations, and other citizens trying to keep up with environmental assessments. There was a time when they could concentrate of one or two projects without allowing several others to slip past them unnoticed. Not any more.
My name is Annita McPhee. I am a member of the Tahltan Nation, and President of the Tahltan Central Council, which is a governing body of the Tahltan People. I am pleased to make this presentation to Professor James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on behalf of the Tahltan People.
(To read complete submission, click "Tahltan Central Council")
REACTING to what it calls “disruptive and damaging protests,” Fortune Minerals Ltd., the company that wants to build a coal mine in the Klappan Valley against the wishes of local Tahltan First Nation, says it is leaving the area.
An increasingly tense standoff between a B.C. First Nation and a London, Ont.-based coal company in a remote mountain valley known as Sacred Headwaters is set to erupt as protesters flaunt their month-long presence on a drilling site and taunt the RCMP to arrest them.
(To read complete source article, click "The Globe and Mail")
FEW PLACES ON our planet have been unaffected by humans. Satellite images taken from hundreds of kilometres above Earth reveal a world irrevocably changed by our land use over just the past few decades.
From Arctic tundra to primeval rainforest to arid desert, our natural world is being fragmented by ever-expanding towns and cities, roads, transmission lines, and pipelines, and pockmarked by mines, pump jacks, flare stacks and other infrastructure used to drill, frack and strip-mine fossil fuels.
(To read complete source article, click "The Georgia Straight")
The Tahltan and the provincial government have signed another in a series of agreements ultimately intended to set out what kind of development, if any, should take place in the Klappan Valley, popularly known as the Sacred Headwaters.
Written by Lee White, Senior Advisor with Good Medicine Group Consulting
....The Tahltan Central Council, which represents several bands with roughly 5,000 members, has unanimously passed a resolution to protect the Sacred Headwaters from any development – forever. The same area was subject to coal-bed methane exploration and drilling by Shell Oil which ended favourably for the Tahltan and their Sacred Headwaters.
"The Tahltan have been very progressive in engaging with mining companies within their traditional territory, and have been very clear on how this relationship needs to take place. Consultation must begin before exploration," said Marc Storms, Founder of GMG Consulting, who began working in Tahltan territory in 1993. "There are mines in the Tahltan territory, but some things are off the table. The Sacred Headwaters and Mt. Klappan have always been off the table. This area is held as sacred to the Tahltan people. Imagine trying to mine Mt. Sinai?"
(To read the complete source article, click "Troy Media")
Holding homemade signs carrying simple messages, a small group of First Nations and environmental advocates gathered Wednesday in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in solidarity of the Tahltan Nation’s escalating conflict with Fortune Minerals Ltd.
Tension between the groups remains high despite a weekend meeting with representatives from both camps where it was concluded that Fortune would alter but ultimately continue exploratory work for its proposed Arctos Anthracite coal project in the Klappan area, also known as the Sacred Headwaters.
(To read the complete source article, click "The Province")
An emergency Saturday evening meeting between Fortune Minerals CEO Robin Goad and the Tahltan Nation elders who recently issued his company an eviction notice from their territory failed to resolve tensions over a proposed mine, according to local environmental group, Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
The meeting, also attended Anita McPhee, president of the Tahltan Central Council - the political body which represents several bands and 5,000 members throughout the region - and Marie Quock, chief of the nearby Iskut Band Council, took place at Beauty Camp, a historic hunting and fishing outpost amid the Klappan, or "Sacred Headwaters", approximately 330 km northeast of Prince Rupert.
(To read the complete source article, click "The Common Sense Canadian")
VANCOUVER — Teck Resources (TSX: TCK.B; NYSE: TCK) has a thing for Schaft Creek.
Thirty years ago Teck advanced the project to prefeasibility, before metal prices and other opportunities forced the copper-molybdenum-gold-silver porphyry to the back burner. Teck was not the first to see potential in the northwest B.C. property — at least seven other companies worked the project prior to Teck.
(To read complete source article, click "The Northern Miner")
More work needed to understand potential impacts of waste storage, industry-funded review finds.
By Christopher Pollon, 4 Jul 2013, TheTyee.ca
More work is required before anyone knows how an estimated 300-million tonnes of tailings from the proposed Red Chris mine will eventually affect water in the upper Stikine watershed of northwest B.C., concludes a confidential industry-funded review acquired by The Tyee.
The report, paid for by mine owner Imperial Metals at the urging of the Tahltan Nation, recommends a comprehensive field investigation including additional drilling, groundwater collection and monitoring wells be undertaken as a way of addressing existing information gaps.
(To read the complete source article, click "The Tyee")
Private run-of-river hydro facilities are falling short of meeting both the specific monitoring requirements for their projects as well as general industry guidelines, a consultant's report commissioned by the federal fisheries department concludes.
(To read complete source article, click "The Vancouver Sun")
British Columbia's economy is growing. Much of that growth rests on expanded resource industries. Yet our laws designed to protect the unparalleled beauty and richness of the B.C. environment have been weakened, both federally and provincially, over the past decade.
(To read complete source articles, click "The Tyee")
National Geographic explorer-in-residence Mike Fay has travelled to places most of us can only dream of. So it’s no small compliment when he says the wilderness of northwestern B.C. is as good as anything on the planet. Having spent thousands of hours conducting aerial research and travelled thousands of kilometres on foot over the past 40 years, he states: “The land in northwestern B.C. is without a doubt probably the most stunning landscape that anyone could ever see. It is so immense and so incredibly intact and incredibly rich. It blows you away…it really blows your mind.”
Last summer, John Grace, one of the world's elite kayakers, traveled more than 3,000 miles from his North Carolina home into the wild northwest corner of British Columbia, to explore the Iskut River. It's the biggest tributary of the Stikine River, which flows all the way to the Alaska panhandle coast, and together they're the kind of big, untamed salmon-rich river system no longer found in the American West. On a sunny August day, deep in the backcountry, Grace and a few friends paddled toward the jaws of Iskut Canyon, hoping to reach a four-mile stretch of surging whitewater that no human had conquered before.
As they neared the canyon, the haunting silence of the rainforest closed in around them. Suddenly they found themselves in the midst of a vast construction camp. Workers were boring a tunnel into the mountain, part of a hydropower project to harness the great force of the river.
(To read the complete source article, click "High Country News")
Loggers say poor quality of material and distance to mills reduce market for timber
By Gordon Hamilton, Vancouver Sun
BC Hydro is burning most of the timber it is cutting along the 340-kilometre-long route of its Northwest Transmission Line north of Terrace, saying the quality of the wood and sheer remoteness of the project make it uneconomic to salvage.
Hydro has warned residents along the route to expect smokey and hazy skies as contractors burn hundreds of thousands of trees — almost all of the estimated 490,000 cubic metres of wood that is now being cleared along the right-of-way for the $404 million project.
Ironically, one of the environmental arguments Hydro makes for the new line is that electrification will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in northwestern B.C.
(To read the complete source article, click "The Vancouver Sun")
British Columbia's government is hitching its economic hopes for the province to a boom in resource development. Much of that is slated for the northwest. Resource journalist Christopher Pollon traveled to the region to learn how an anticipated boom of power lines, new mines and hydro projects will affect northern communities – for better and worse.
(To read complete source articles, click "The Tyee")
Canadian miner NovaGold Resources Inc. (TSX:NG) said today that it has begun the process of trying to sell its 50% stake in the Galore Creek copper-gold project in British Columbia, in order to fully focus on its flagship Donlin gold project in Alaska, in a stament announcing its poor Q4 results.
CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland.
Environmentalists say the process amounts to a "hidden subsidy" to mining companies, allowing them to get around laws against the destruction of fish habitat.
Under the Fisheries Act, it's illegal to put harmful substances into fish-bearing waters. But, under a little-known subsection known as Schedule Two of the mining effluent regulations, federal bureaucrats can redefine lakes as "tailings impoundment areas."
That means mining companies don't need to build containment ponds for toxic mine tailings.
CBC News visited two examples of Schedule Two lakes. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Vale Inco company wants to use a prime destination for fishermen known as Sandy Pond to hold tailings from a nickel processing plant.
In northern B.C., Imperial Metals plans to enclose a remote watershed valley to hold tailings from a gold and copper mine. The valley lies in what the native Tahltan people call the "Sacred Headwaters" of three major salmon rivers. It also serves as spawning grounds for the rainbow trout of Kluela Lake, which is downstream from the dump site.