Mining

Decision on Private Prosecution Against Mount Polley Expected Any Day

 Premier John Horgan BC Mount Polley Mine Disaster DeSmog Canada

Premier John Horgan said this week he's anxiously awaiting a court decision on charges against Mount Polley mining corporation brought in a private prosecution by former Xat’sull chief Bev Sellars for violations of B.C.’s environmental laws — but B.C.'s role in that case is still unclear.

B.C.'s crown prosecution service is responsible for the final decision on whether and how B.C. will proceed with the case regarding the 2014 tailings pond collapse that released 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water.*

Sellars filed the case on August 4th, 2017 — the last day a case under provincial law could be brought against the company due to a three-year statute of limitations — as a means of holding open the legal door for government, which had only recently come under NDP power.

The courts are expected to make a decision on the fate of the private prosecution by the end of January.

Mining Company Loses 5-Year B.C. Lawsuit Meant to ‘Silence’ Critics

Taseko Mines Wilderness Committee SLAPP suit

The Wilderness Committee has won a landmark defamation case brought against it by Taseko Mines Ltd. but, despite the win, the non-profit environmental group will suffer financially after fighting the company in court for five years.

The case is being held up as a textbook example of why anti-SLAPP legislation is needed in B.C.

We are very proud to have stood our ground, but B.C. very much needs anti-SLAPP legislation. We were completely innocent and yet this company was able to keep us in the courts for five years — and their pockets are much deeper than ours,” said Wilderness Committee national campaigner Joe Foy.

B.C. Denies Ajax Mine Permit Citing Adverse Impacts to Indigenous Peoples, Environment

KGHM Ajax Mine

The proposed Ajax mine, a 1,700-hectare open-pit gold and copper mine near Kamloops, B.C., was denied a provincial environmental certificate from the B.C. government Thursday.

Environment Minister George Heyman and Minister of Energy and Mines, Michelle Mungall, found the benefits of the 18-year project, which has received vocal opposition from local communities and First Nations, do not outweigh its significant, adverse effects.

This project was subject to a great deal of scrutiny and discussion over seven years,” Heyman told reporters in a press briefing, noting the federal government has yet to issue its final decision on the project.

No matter what they decision by the federal government, this project would require a provincial certificate to go ahead. Our decision is to not issue one.”

What the Heck Is Acid Drainage, and Why Is It Such a Big Deal?

What is that yellow goop in the water? Acid rock drainage–metal leaching, or just “acid drainage”, is usually associated with mining but also happens during large building projects, like the Site C dam — basically any time a large amount of rock has been crushed, blasted, or otherwise made to have a lot of new surface area open to the air. It’s a result of sulphur-containing compounds in the rock reacting with air and water, causing the formation of sulphuric acid.

Imperial Metals’ Financial Downgrade Raises Questions About Liability of Mount Polley, Red Chris Mines

Red Chris Mine Garth Lenz| DeSmog Canada

A leading credit rating agency’s financial downgrading of Imperial Metals Corp. is sending alarm signals through B.C. and Alaska groups concerned about the future of mines operated by the company.

Moody’s Investor Service has reassessed Imperial Metals’ “probability of default rating,” with financial analysts stating the company is at imminent risk of not being able to pay its debts. The company’s rating is “judged to be speculative, of poor standing, subject to very high default risk and may be in default on some, but not all, of their long-term debt obligations,” according to the service.

Imperial Metals, based in Vancouver, owns the Mount Polley Mine near Williams Lake — the site of the 2014 tailings pond collapse — and the Red Chris Mine, a large open-pit mine near the border of Alaska which uses the same tailings pond infrastructure as Mount Polley.

Taseko’s Contaminated Water Discharge into Fraser River Prompts Resignation of Community From Mine Group

Gibraltar Mine Taseko via Facebook

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society (CCCS) abruptly resigned this month from the Technical Advisory Committee that keeps tabs on water discharges from Taseko’s Gibraltar Mine, the second-largest open-pit copper mine in Canada.

After eight years there has been “absolutely no progress” on improving the mine’s water management practices, society chair Bill Lloyd wrote in a letter sent to other members of the committee.

Gibraltar Mine, northeast of Williams Lake, is 75 per cent owned by Taseko Mines Ltd., which took over the mine site in 1999.

An application for a permit to discharge water into the Fraser River was made in 2005 and granted in 2009. In 2015 the province gave temporary permission for the mine to increase the discharge so the effects could be studied — the company now wants that discharge permit made permanent.

In Photos: The Canadian Mining Boom You’ve Never Seen Before

Red Chris mine

If you’re in Vancouver this is way out in the middle of nowhere, but way out in the middle of nowhere is our backyard.”

Those are the words of Frederick Otilius Olsen Jr., the tribal president of a traditional Haida village on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

When I met him, he had travelled to Ketchikan, Alaska, to meet with officials about the risk posed by the mining boom across the border in British Columbia.

He stood on the boardwalk overlooking Ketchikan’s fishing fleet and waved his hands animatedly while he told me about how his culture — and southern Alaska’s economy — depends on salmon.

Canada Has Second-Worst Mining Record in World: UN

Mount Polley mine spill

Canada has more mine tailings spills than most other countries in the world, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which urges governments and the mining industry to improve safety, accountability and oversight.

During the last decade there have been seven known mine tailings spills in Canada, only one less than reported in China, which tops the list, says the report.

The UNEP assessment “Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident” looks at 40 tailings accidents, including the 2014 Mount Polley disaster that saw 24 million cubic metres of sludge and mine waste flooding into nearby waterways.

Why A Canadian Mining Company Is Suing Romania for $4.4 Billion

Geamana village Romania

Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources is suing Romania for $4.4 billion through a secretive tribunal after the country denied permits for the largest open-pit gold and silver mine in Europe — a project Canadian officials advocated for, according to documents obtained by DeSmog Canada.

Since 1997, the Canadian mining company (fun fact: it was founded by a man convicted twice of heroin possession), has pressured Romania to allow the construction of the proposed mine in northwest Romania.

The mine would destroy three villages, level four mountains and displace 2,000 people.

Tens of thousands of people marched against the Roșia Montană project in 2013 — the same year the Romanian parliament rejected permits for the mine’s construction. Since then, Romania has applied for the site to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

That Time Trudeau Announced $360 Million for Roads to Yukon Mines That Haven't Been Approved Yet

Justin Trudeau Yukon Gateway Resources Announcement

In early September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than $360 million in funding for roads to service mining operations in two remote regions of the Yukon.

There’s just one catch: most of those mines haven’t even been approved yet.  

Some worry the influx of investment — $247 million from the federal government and $112 million from the territory — handcuffs the region to mining development that hasn’t been demonstrated to serve the community’s long-term interests.

Don Reid, conservation zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada, said the timing of the announcement is problematic and calls the objectivity of the mine review process into question.

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