Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett (left) and Alaska Lt.-Gov. Byron Mallott travel up the Taku River to Tulsequah Chief mine

Mine cleanup key to B.C. relations with Alaska

Tulsequah Chief has polluted the Taku River system for decades, souring relations with state downstream

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett returned to B.C. Thursday after efforts to calm fears of environmental impact from new mines in the watershed the province shares with Alaska.

The trip was organized by Alaska Lieutenant-Governor Byron Mallott. It included a trip up the Taku River to the idle Tulsequah Chief mine, built by Cominco in the 1950s and long an abandoned source of acid and heavy metal pollution running from its entrance tunnel into the Tulsequah River.

The last company that tried to remediate and restart Tulsequah Chief, Redfern Resources, went bankrupt in the economic collapse of 2008-9. Chieftain Metals took over and built a water treatment plant, and the province declared its project “substantially started” this spring.

“We need to do some work around that mine site,” Bennett said after a riverboat and helicopter tour with Mallot. “It does require some water treatment, and there is a water treatment plant built there. That’s one area where B.C. could improve its performance.”

Some of the commercial fishermen, environmentalists and aboriginal tribes Bennett met in a four-day visit were surprised to find that B.C. has only one operating mine in the trans-boundary watershed region, he said. That is Red Chris, near the Iskut River south of Dease Lake, with others in the area part-way through their permit process.

The Brucejack and KSM mine properties are proposed for the Unuk River watershed. KSM has its environmental certificate after designing twin 23-km tunnels to carry ore for milling out of the watershed, but some people in Alaska weren’t aware of that modification, Bennett said.

Alaska and B.C. have similar mine approval processes today and Bennett hopes to have a protocol for regulating and restoring mine sites that Premier Christy Clark and Alaska Governor Bill Walker can sign later this year.

Acid runoff pond on bank of Tulsequah River mine site in northwest B.C., 2011. Yukon News photo

Just Posted

Alberni’s Anne Ostwald named a finalist for Premier’s Award

Alberni District Secondary School teacher encourages students to find their passion

Tofino and Ucluelet prepare for daytime Hwy. 4 closures and eight-hour power outage

“We know that there’s never a good time for an outage and thank the community for their patience.”

Port Alberni’s Healthy Harvest Farm closing

Operation will merge with Hupacasath Community Garden

Port Alberni Black Sheep hang on to win season opener

Sheep face James Bay Rugby Club in first game of the season

Port Alberni man arrested for breaking windows

29-year-old Port Alberni resident was caught breaking a window in a local residence

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

Most Read