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

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Grand Forks pool aims for gradual reopening

The Piranhas Swim Club will be the first to test the water, starting July 20

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Sculpture to offer point of beauty and unity at rivers’ junction in Grand Forks

Artist David Seven Deers spent 19 months sculpting Shining Raven Woman

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

New comet appears in pre-dawn sky above Cranbrook

Neowise can be seen without a telescope over the next couple of weeks

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Most Read