Alaska turns up the heat on proposed B.C. mines – by Gordon Hoekstra (Vancouver Sun – May 3, 2015)

Lt. Gov. Mallott to meet with cabinet ministers, business and First Nations leaders

B.C.’s push to develop mines in its shared watersheds with Alaska is under increasing scrutiny from the American side of the border.

Concerns over multiple proposed metal mines near the southeast Alaska border has drawn Alaska’s Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott — and a coterie of commercial fishing, conservation and First Nation groups — to British Columbia this week.

In a visit that coincides with mining week in B.C., Mallott will meet with B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, Environment Minister Mary Polak, industry representatives and First Nation leaders.

The Alaskan fishing, conservation and aboriginal representatives are in B.C. to build alliances in their push for more scrutiny of the potential effects on Alaska waters that support a multi-billion-dollar fishery.

They believe that B.C.’s review process is not adequate and want Alaska to have a seat at a table, potentially through an international joint commission, to examine potential cumulative effects on water and salmon. The groups are also concerned about compensation if there is a disaster.

The groups already had concerns about the potential cumulative effects on water quality and salmon from mines such as Imperial Metal’s $643-million Red Chris mine, which just started production, Seabridge’s proposed $5.4-billion KSM project in northwest B.C. and a planned project at the old Tulsequah Chief mine.

But the catastrophic tailings dam spill at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine in the B.C. Interior last summer has heightened those concerns, says Heather Hardcastle, a commercial fisherman and the campaign lead for Salmon Beyond Borders.

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