"To those who would despoil our homeland, we say this: we will never dishonor those who have gone before us, and whose bones are now part of the earth beneath our feet. Long ago our people established laws to protect the land and waters and the animals and plants that live among us. We have a solemn duty and responsibility to those who came before and those to follow to protect this place. It is a Sacred Trust given to us, and which no one can deny."
-- excerpt from the Tl'abane Declaration, Kablona Keepers
Imperial Metals, the mining company responsible for the largest mining disaster in B.C. -- the ongoing Mount Polley Mine disaster -- will be seeking the final permit to open its controversial and highly contested Red Chris Mine in the Sacred Headwaters of Northwestern B.C. Between now and the end of March 2015, the B.C. Ministry of Environment is reviewing the permit that would allow Imperial Metals to start discharging into their tailings pond and open the Red Chris Mine.
The Klabona Keepers of the Tahltan First Nation have blockaded the site of the Imperial Metals' Red Chris copper and gold mine several times this year. Click here to watch a video of the Kablona Keepers and the Sacred Headwaters. The Keepers are a group of elders and families who live on and use the Tahltan's traditional lands near Iskut known as the Tl'abāne, the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers. The massive mine project threatens their culture, people and the wild Sacred Headwaters watershed. To learn more about the Kablona Keepers and read their Klappan Declaration, click here. And to watch a video of their recent blockade, click here.
The Red Chris Mine would build an open pit on Todagin Mountain, which overlooks the nine pristine lakes of the Iskut/Stikine headwaters, some of the best trout fisheries in Canada. It is home to the largest concentration of Stone sheep in the world, as well as other wildlife including grizzly, wolf, wolverine, black bear and mountain goat. The Red Chris mine was scheduled to open in October or November of this year, but was delayed in the aftermath of the Mount Polley Mine Disaster.
Nine reasons to say NO to Red Chris Mine:
- The tailings pond for Red Chris is far larger than that of the Mount Polley Mine. It has a similar design to the Mount Polley tailings pond, now famous for its catastrophic dam breach that unleashed around 25 million cubic metres of toxic heavy metals and chemical laden tailings water and sludge into Polley Lake, down Hazeltine Creek, into Quesnel Lake and onto the Quesnel River which directly connects to the Fraser River Watershed.
- The Red Chris tailings storage facility as planned straddles the headwaters of three local watersheds, and is downstream of both the Klappan River and a chain of large lakes draining into the Iskut River. The estimated 300 million tonnes of tailings generated by the mine (over its projected 28 year lifespan) would include crushed rock, water, heavy metals and chemicals from the mine's mill. The mine will release untreated mine water into a creek that eventually flows into the salmon-bearing Stikine River.
- An independent review of Imperial Metals Red Chris Mine revealed a host of problems with their tailings pond design, including the risk of seepage and leakage from the storage facility. It made 22 recommendations, among those being for a liner to prevent seepage and that Imperial Metals had not done enough work to even predict how bad the seepage would be. The review also raised the concern to further study the risks associate with the Kluea landslide, whose crest is about 300 metres from the eventual pit rim. The landslide could potentially let loose and hit the mine site, resulting in an uncontrolled release of acidic and process water. Click here to read the full review of the Red Chris Tailings Impoundment Design by Klohn Crippen Berger.
- The review identified a number of items that were lacking for the Red Chris Tailings facility: emergency response plans; an operating, maintenance and surveillance manual for the tailings facility; and studies to detail what would happen if there is a collapse of the dams.
- The tailings at Red Chris are considered to be much more acidic than those at Mount Polley. Should a failure occur at Red Chris similar to what happened at Mount Polley, the consequences could well be far more devastating due to the increased acidity of the tailings. The independent review noted that "any failure of the Red Chris impoundment will likely have a much more significant environmental impact than the Mount Polley failure.
- By pushing the Red Chris Mine ahead, Imperial Metals and the B.C. government are ignoring the Kablona Keepers Indigenous rights and title on unceded land. The mine will lead to the contamination and destruction of the lands and waters that they've hunted, fished and lived off for thousands of years. It could also affect their home community of Iskut, which is only 18 kms from the mine site. To learn more about the impacts, click here to watch a video from the Kablona Keepers.
- The Red Chris Mine would allow Imperial Metals to finance further destruction in other pristine watersheds, putting wild salmon and communities at risk through other controversial mining projects. These proposed mines include two mines in Clayquot Sound (a copper mine at Catface Mountain in Ahousaht territory and the Fandora gold mine on Tla-o-qui-aht territory), and the Ruddock Creek lead and zinc mine -- which threatens some of the most important watersheds and salmon runs in Secwepemc territory, including the Adams River run, the world's largest remaining sockeye salmon.
- Imperial Metals has a proven history of putting profits before safety, cutting corners, and neglecting the multiple warnings about a tailings dam breach from its own workers, independent consultants, and government officials. Do we really want another Mount Polley mine disaster in the Sacred Headwaters with the Red Chris Mine?
- Billionaire Murray Edwards is Imperial Metals' largest shareholder and he is also the chairman of tar sands giant CNRL, a company now infamous for its ongoing tar sands spill in Alberta that it has been unable to clean up since 2013. Edwards is also one of the biggest donors to the B.C. Liberals, having thrown fundraisers and made major campaign contributions to both Premier Christy Clark and Bill Bennet, the Minister of Mines and Energy. And you get what you pay for. The B.C. government has a dismal record of rubber stamping and fast-tracking mining approvals, not holding companies accountable and enforcing regulations, and failing to invest in the necessary monitoring of these mining projects. With all these combined, it's a recipe for disaster in the Sacred Headwaters that will put communities and watersheds at risk.
Take Action Now: Call on the B.C. government to say no to Imperial Metals' Red Chris Mine and protect the Sacred Headwaters
The B.C. government cannot send the message that a polluter can be responsible for the worst environmental disaster on record in this province and then be rewarded with a permit to simply move on to greener pastures to increase its profits and make another killing. To date, Imperial Metals has not been able to clean up its Mount Polley Mine disaster which happened on Aug 4, 2014, and has yet to even submit a clean-up plan to the government. If the B.C. government approves Imperial Metals' Red Chris tailings discharge permit, it will be setting a dangerous and destructive precedent for all forms of extractive companies in B.C. -- no clean up, no consequences!
Stand in solidarity with the Kablona Keepers! The Sacred Headwaters must be protected! Frontline communities across B.C. are pushing back against Imperial Metals' destructive mining projects -- will you join them? Stay tuned for upcoming solidarity actions and events. And in the meantime, take a few minutes and please call Minister Mary Polak and Premier Clark today and demand that they DENY IMPERIAL METALS ITS FINAL PERMIT AND SAY NO TO REDCHRIS MINE!
Minister of the Environment Mary Polak
phone: (legislature)250 387-1187/(constituency office)604 514-8206
Premier Christie Clark
phone: (legistlature) 250 387-1715/ (constituency office)250 768-8426
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