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VANCOUVER – A native band downstream from what may become the biggest mine in Canada says it is worried about the long-term threat that pollution could pose to the Nass and Bell-Irving Rivers in northwest B.C.
“The mine’s life span is for 50 years and they are estimating that mine will be required to treat [waste water] for well over 200 years. And who’s going to be responsible for that?” Glen Williams, Hereditary Chief of the Gitanyow First Nation said Wednesday.
The Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine, which Seabridge Gold Inc. is proposing to build high in the mountains 65 kilometres northwest of Smithers, would use tailings ponds and a water treatment plant to handle pollution generated by two billion tons of waste rock.
Brent Murphy, vice-president of environmental affairs for the Toronto-based resource explorations company, said, “Protection of the environment has been a key guiding principle in the design of the project, and we’ve worked very hard to ensure that there’s no impact downstream of the facility.”
An environmental impact statement filed by the company says discharges from the copper-gold mine will have no significant impact on fish and the aquatic habitat overall.
Mr. Murphy said four other First Nations in the region have expressed confidence in the plans, and the Nisga’a Nation last August signed an agreement in principle with Seabridge. In a press release at that time, Nisga’a president Mitchell Stevens praised the company for being “very responsive to our concerns around the environmental and social impacts of the project.”
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