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

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

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Comox Valley RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

A Coast Range Cannabis store has been approved for the Crown Isle Shopping Centre in Courtenay. Photo submitted
Courtenay council approves seventh cannabis retailer

Coast Range Cannabis to open second store in the Comox Valley

A map of the Village Forest Lands near Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland
Cumberland adopts forest management direction statement

Less detailed than full plan, documents sets out decision-making for village-owned land

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Vancouver Island RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Most Read