Red Chris Mine gets green light from B.C. government (Canadian Press/CBC News BC – June 19, 2015)

Mine is owned by same company that operates Mount Polley

A gold and copper mine in northwestern B.C. that still faces angry opposition from its neighbours in Alaska has received approval for a full operating permit from the provincial government.

B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett announced Friday that the Red Chris Mine, owned by Imperial Metals, will soon be in full production, despite environmental concerns from First Nations, environmental groups and Alaskans, who are downstream from the mine site.

Those worries were magnified last summer, when a tailings pond collapsed at the Mount Polley mine, another Imperial Metals-owned mine in interior B.C.

Bennett said he’s confident the Red Chris Mine, located about 130 kilometres from the Alaska border, won’t experience a similar breach because the tailings storage facility has undergone three independent reviews.

He noted the mine has operated successfully for months on a temporary permit while officials monitored the facility.

“I have no doubt … that (waste) water is going to be managed carefully, and in such a way that people downstream, including our neighbours in Alaska, can have confidence that we’re doing everything that any responsible jurisdiction should do,” he said.

‘We have no voice’

Heather Hardcastle, a commercial fisherman and spokeswoman for Alaska-based group Salmon Beyond Borders said she’s still worried the mine could unleash heavy metals and acidic drainage into the waters, impacting Alaska’s multi-billion dollar fishing and tourism industries.

The problem is that the government of Alaska hasn’t been involved in assessing or approving mining projects in northwestern B.C., where mine run-off flows into Alaskan waters, she said.

“We have no voice and B.C. has no accountability. And we’re taking on all of the risks and receiving none of the benefits,” Hardcastle said.

Alaskans aren’t anti-mining, she added, but people are concerned about how many projects are currently underway in the pristine region.

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