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The Schaft Creek Project is a proposed open pit mine located about 60 km/38 miles south of Telegraph Creek, British Columbia. Copper Fox Resources and Teck Resources have signed a joint-venture agreement to explore and develop the project. A feasibility study envisions an open pit mine and conventional mill churning through 130,000 tonnes per day over a mine life of at least 21 years. Schaft Creek ore concentrates would be transported by truck along Highway 37 to the Port of Stewart, B.C. The area is remote – an 81 km power line would have to be built from Bob Quinn Lake to the proposed mine site – and construction costs would be substantial. Mine construction is currently estimated to cost $3.3 billion.
The proposed Schaft Creek mine would fragment the ecological integrity of the Mess Creek valley, which is directly adjacent with wildlife habitat in the spectacular Mount Edziza Provincial Park. The area around the proposed mine supports a variety of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, including grizzly and black bears, moose, mountain goat, northern caribou, American marten, hoary marmot, Stone’s Sheep, and salmon downstream from the mine site. If developed, the proposed mine would bring access roads, transmission lines, and the threat of acid mine drainage to a part of the transboundary region that is currently without roads or industrial intrusions of any kind.
Threats to water quality are of particular concern. The proposed Schaft Creek mine could generate over a billion tons of potentially acid-generating waste rock in a region with extremely high seasonal water levels flowing downstream into the Stikine River. Schaft Creek drains into Mess Creek, a tributary to the Stikine River, which supports 19 fish species, including all 5 species of Pacific salmon. The mine would also generate over 800 million tons of toxic tailings that would be dumped in a lake. The waste rock and tailings would be a potential source of contamination to downstream water quality and wild salmon in the Stikine watershed.