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

Oceanside RCMP: ‘Steal from cars, go behind bars’

Man in custody after pair of vehicles broken into in French Creek; officer breaks ankle during arrest

Large ‘problematic’ tree removed from Qualicum Beach golf course

Lombardy Poplar tree taken down by town, member upset

RDN to share cost of Parksville’s goose harvest

City asked regional district to pay one-third of $35K expense

Parksville’s Arrowsmith Lodge and Cokely Manor celebrate 50 years

Week of ‘60s-themed activities starts on April 26

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Can you put your phone down for Mother’s Day?

#DiningMode campaign encourages people to leave the phone alone while eating

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

SPCA investigating after newborn kittens found in Vancouver dumpster

The kittens were found suffering from hypothermia and dehydration

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man charged with daughters’ murders

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Most Read