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Comment period opens for mine that would destroy two brooks in New Brunswick

Image: gnbca/Flickr

The Trudeau government approved the Sisson mine in June 2017. The mine would be built by Vancouver-based Northcliff Resources Ltd. with New Zealand-based Todd Corporation as a financing partner. Northcliff is also associated with Vancouver-based mining giant Hunter Dickinson Inc.

Their proposed open-pit tungsten and molybdenum mine would be built at the headwaters of the Nashwaak River on Wolastoq (Maliseet) territory about 60 kilometres northwest of Fredericton.

Tungsten is used to make saw blades and drill bits, while molybdenum is used to help make military aircraft, industrial motors and filaments. The Sisson mine would also include an ore processing plant and an unlined tailings pond.

The CBC has reported that the tailings dam has been likened by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) to the dam that burst in August 2014 at the Mount Polley mine in British Columbia, causing significant environmental damage.

The CCNB has also previously highlighted that the mine would have a significant impact on local waterways, including Bird Brook, West Branch Napadogan Brook, Sisson Brook, and McBean Brook.

Now the NB Media Coop has posted on social media, "On Monday, the Trudeau Government announced that tributaries of Bird Brook & West Napadogan Brook, part of the Nashwaak watershed, had been placed on a list that would take away its protections so that the Sisson Mine could dump its mining waste in them." More on this can be found in the Canada Gazette dated February 16, on pages 400 to 421 (pages 38 to 59 of the PDF).

That document says, "The Proponent intends to use water bodies frequented by fish to dispose of the mine waste (tailings and waste rock) that will be generated by the mining operations."

It then notes, "The Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER) … include provisions to allow the use of waters frequented by fish for the disposal of mine waste."

It continues, "The proposed amendments to the MDMER would list two water bodies in Schedule 2 of the MDMER, designating them as tailings impoundment areas (TIAs), which would allow the Proponent to dispose of mine waste as proposed."

Later it specifies, "The proposed amendments would enable Sisson Partnership to use Bird Brook and an unnamed tributary to West Branch Napadogan Brook, which are fish-frequented water bodies, for the disposal of mine waste."

According to the document, the species that can be found in these waterways are brook trout, slimy sculpin, American eel, and Atlantic salmon.

The Canada Gazette notes, "Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Nancy Seymour, Manager, Mining and Processing Division, Industrial Sectors, Chemicals, and Waste Directorate, Department of the Environment, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3 (fax: 819-420-7381; email: ec.mmer-remm.ec@canada.ca).”

The Council of Canadians Fredericton chapter opposes this mine. It has worked in solidarity with the Wolastoq Mothers and Grandmothers who are exercising their land rights with a land defence camp on the site of the proposed mine.

In July 2017, the Council of Canadians Fredricton chapter delivered supplies to the camp, and in later that year, they helped build a permanent structure and facilitated the purchase of a generator for the camp. Last spring, the chapter attended a public consultation on the mine held by Environment Canada, and last fall helped with the splitting and stacking of firewood, cleaning out the raised garden beds and planting garlic, and the construction of a second dwelling at the site.

And chapter activist Joan Green has now been sharing this news on social media with the encouragement that people comment before the March 18 deadline.

The mining company must win this Schedule 2 exemption for the mine to proceed. Now is the time for land and water defenders to strongly say no to this mining project.

Image: gnbca/Flickr

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