Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs slide on this project.
The Trudeau government has approved a “tailings management facility” in the upper tributaries of Teigen and North Treaty creeks (which form part of the Nass River drainage system) near Stewart, British Columbia. That means that these water bodies will be used for the disposal of tailings.
This would occur through the infamous Schedule 2 provision.
In 2002, the Harper government allowed a loophole in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations of the Fisheries Act, giving the green light to mining companies to dump their toxic waste into lakes and creeks. Originally introduced under the former Liberal government and intended only to apply to lakes already dead, Schedule 2 allows for the reclassification of a lake as a ‘tailings impoundment area’ no longer protected by the Fisheries Act.
The tailings would come from Seabridge Gold Inc.’s proposed KSM project.
The news came in this media release from Seabridge.
This Government of Canada website notes, “Seabridge Gold Inc. (Seabridge) is proposing to construct and operate the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) Mine Project, a combined open pit and underground gold, copper, silver and molybdenum mine in northwest British Columbia. This project is expected to affect natural, fish-frequented portions of the upper tributaries of North Treaty Creek and South Teigen Creek due to the disposal of mine tailings. A natural, fish-frequented water body can only be used for the disposal of mine tailings if the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER), under the Fisheries Act, are amended to add such water bodies to Schedule 2 of the MMER.”
That website adds, “The [Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency] concluded that the KSM Mine Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, based on the implementation of the proposed mitigation measures. …The proposed Amendments would result in the loss of 10.6 hectares (ha) of fish habitat in the Bell-Irving River watershed, while the development and implementation of the fish habitat compensation plan would create 18.2 ha of new fish habitat within the same watershed, yielding a net benefit of 7.6 ha of fish habitat.”
The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs have stated that the mine project would put 2.34 billion tons of tailings into the headwaters of the Nass watershed.
The Council of Canadians has long opposed Schedule 2. We have participated in campaigns to stop Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) in British Columbia and Sandy Pond in Newfoundland and Labrador from being turned into tailings impoundment areas.
We had called on the Trudeau government to close the loophole in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations. We are deeply disappointed – though no longer surprised – that the Liberals continue to break their water protection promises.