Pushing back on B.C.’s open-pit mining operations - Kodiak Daily Mirror: Letters To Editor

Pushing back on B.C.’s open-pit mining operations

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 9:00 am

United Fishermen of Alaska is grateful to Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan, as well as the Senators of Idaho, Washington and Montana, for coming together to urge British Columbia Premier John Horgan to clean up B.C.’s mining sector and to work towards alleviating the threat B.C.’s large scale open-pit mines pose to the province’s downstream U.S. neighbors. All eight senators representing B.C.’s four U.S. border states wrote Premier Horgan on June 13, informing him on what they have been doing to monitor and sustain rivers that flow from B.C. into their states and requesting he increase the province’s efforts to do the same.

B.C. is rushing through more than a dozen large-scale open-pit mines along the major salmon rivers the province shares with Alaska. Meanwhile, a number of its existing mines are already contaminating U.S. waters. In the case of the AK-B.C. transboundary Unuk River, 59 percent of the total land draining water to the Unuk (around 80 percent on the B.C. side of the border) is covered with B.C. mining claims or leases — and yet B.C. regulators give little consideration to the mines’ cumulative effects on downstream fishing communities. In contrast to how things are done in Alaska, B.C. also does not require mine owners to post the full amount of money required to clean up after production  — in the worst cases, allowing a mining company to declare bankruptcy and walk away, leaving the province and its taxpayers with the responsibility to cover the costs. As the more than 60 years of acid mine drainage from B.C.’s abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine into the Taku River system clearly shows, that doesn’t work out well for anyone except the mining company. In B.C., the polluter does not pay.

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