Red Chris mine has begun operation near the Iskut River in northwest B.C.

B.C. seeks mining agreement with Alaska

Northwest B.C. mine projects on major salmon rivers that flow into the Alaska panhandle

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.

Two of those mines are just north of Stewart B.C. and Hyder, Alaska near the Unuk River, which flows into Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Brucejack Mine is an underground project expected to proceed with construction this year. Its tailings are to be returned to the mine shaft, reducing concern about environmental impact.

Near Brucejack is the KSM Mine, one of the largest copper and gold ore deposits in the world. It was given B.C. permits last year for a design that includes open pits and a pair of tunnels to carry ore 23 km away for processing.

Bennett plans to fly into the Taku River region, where B.C. has issued permits for the Tulsequah Chief mine south of Atlin. It also plans a tailings storage site to restart mining on two ore deposits that were previously mined in the 1950s.

“We’re going to meet with dozens of different interests and people, do a lot of listening, but also make sure that Alaskans become a bit more aware of how much access their government has to our processes in B.C.,” Bennett said.

The Alaska government participated in the approvals for KSM and others, but many state residents aren’t aware of that, he said.

Many Alaskans are aware of the Mount Polley situation, where recovery work continues a year after millions of tonnes of mine waste poured into Quesnel Lake. Testing of water and aquatic life continues and the water continues to meet Canadian drinking water standards.

“It’s going to take years to have any long-term certainty on this, but so far it would seem that there hasn’t been a negative impact on aquatic organisms that we know of today, or on humans,” Bennett said.

An engineering review of all operating tailings dams at B.C. mines was ordered after the Mount Polley investigation found a glacial material layer that was undetected led to the dam failure in early August 2014.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Smithers woman awarded $55K in RCMP excessive force suit

Irene Joseph alleged false arrest and assault and battery related to a 2014 incident in Smithers

Flooding highly unlikely this year throughout Skeena watershed

Region’s snowpack among lowest in the province

Why I will relay

Wings of fight

The outside COVID-19 wave

Workers wave hello to being outside

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read