We’ve heard a lot about mines planned for northwest British Columbia, just across Alaska’s border. Southeast tribal, fishing and environmental groups have blasted those plans. Critics say they’ll pollute rivers that cross the border, damaging or destroying salmon and other fish runs.
Much of the recent focus has been on what’s called the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell or KSM Project, being developed by Seabridge Gold. The site, which also includes copper, is roughly 80 miles east of Wrangell.
Critics say it could damage the Unuk River, which flows into the ocean northeast of Ketchikan. Seabridge says that’s not the case. Brent Murphy is the corporation’s vice president of environmental affairs
“The concern with minimizing downstream environmental impacts has been the guiding principal behind the whole design of the mining project,” Murphy says. Critics say the KSM could be about the same size as the proposed Pebble Prospect, a controversial mine proposed for Southwest Alaska.
They worry about plans for huge, dammed tailing lakes that could leak or break, sending acidic water into nearby streams and rivers.
Murphy says they’ll be built in a valley that drains into Canadian, not Alaskan, waters.
“The dams will be of a design which has been utilized worldwide. And these dams are extremely stable over the long term,” he says.
And what is the estimated life of those dams?
“They have to last for the 52 years of operations. And then we will reclaim that and they will last into perpetuity.”
Seabridge Gold has been working on the project since 2008. Murphy says even if everything goes its way, operations won’t begin until the 2020.
“You don’t build a mine overnight,” says Karina Brino, president of the Mining Association of British Columbia.
“There are a series of authorizations and permits from different levels of government that are required. And other than the Red Chris Mine, in the northwest, all the other projects are in exploration stages,” she says.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.alaskapublic.org/2014/06/18/b-c-developers-defend-near-border-mines/