Alaskan, Canadian Native Leaders Meet In Toronto

The Stikine River's large salmon run would be at risk if the proposed Canadian mine suffers an accident. (SAM BEEBE/WIKIMEDIA)
The Stikine River’s large salmon run would be at risk if the proposed Canadian mine suffers an accident. (SAM BEEBE/WIKIMEDIA)

Seabridge Gold, the Canadian mining company proposing a mine in British Columbia that could threaten wild salmon runs in both B.C. and Southeast Alaska, will be greeted by native leaders this week when it hosts its annual company meeting in Toronto this week.

From the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Working Group:

British Columbia and Alaska indigenous leaders today are calling upon Seabridge Gold’s leadership and investors to prevent more disasters like Mount Polley. Seabridge Gold (TSX:SEA)(NYSE:SA) is a junior mining company proposing what would be North America’s largest open pit mine near British Columbia’s northwest border with Alaska. The mine is located under an active glacier, as well as upstream from major salmon fishing waters and the Misty Fjords National Monument, a popular tourist destination.

“In the wake of the worst environmental disaster in Canadian history, Seabridge is still planning to use risky, discredited technology to store its mine waste.” said Annita McPhee of the Tahltan Nation. “We don’t need any more Mount Polleys. The Mount Polley disaster changes everything.”

Seabridge is facing increasing opposition to the proposed KSM mine sited at the headwaters of a key salmon fishery upon which indigenous peoples on both sides of the border rely on for subsistence. Seabridge proposes risky plans to:

  • Use outdated mine waste storage methods discredited by the Mount Polley disaster investigation.
  • Mine under an active glacier.
  • Manage and treat an unprecedented amounts of mine water, possibly forever (up to 20.8 billion gallons per year) that could still result in water pollution at the Alaska border – 24 km or 19 miles from the mine.

“We’ve come to Toronto to ask Seabridge whether it will publicly support an International Joint commission review,” said Frederick Olsen Jr., representing the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Working Group, a coalition of thirteen southeast Alaska Tribes. He continued, “We’re deeply concerned about the unprecedented downstream risks to our people, who rely on the health of our rivers for their livelihoods. As with the Pebble Mine, the long-term risks outweigh the rewards.”

The State of Alaska and Alaska’s congressional delegation are calling for bilateral discussions and Alaska Tribes and the capital City of Juneau have requested a full International Joint Commission review to address transboundary water pollution issues.

US-based Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada and are also attending Seabridge’s shareholders meeting to support the call for an International Joint Commission review of the KSM mine proposal.

Earlier in June, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forecast a prolonged period of low metals prices, raising questions about the feasibility of large multi-billion mine projects to attract financing. A risk report on the proposed KSM mine, released last week, found that water treatment at the mine would constitute significant financial and operational risks, and the financial surety for the post-closure water treatment alone — not including reclamation of the mine site — would likely cost US$1 billion.

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