by Bell Media, British Columbia
A First Nations tribe is concerned about the long-term effects of a proposed mine in British Columbia near the Alaska border.
According to Bell Media, a Gitanyow Fisheries Authority biologist recently outlined those concerns to the Terrace City Council.
Kevin Koch told the council that Seabridge Gold’s proposed KSM Mine — located near Stewart just over the border from Hyder — would see 130-thousand tons of ore mined daily.
Koch said the Gitanyow are mainly concerned about the effects that acidic tailings from the mine could have on the nearby Treaty and Teigan Creeks, along with the Bell-Irving River.
“It’s a super clean pristine valley,” he said. “Very high fish densities (with) extremely high grizzly bear (and) moose habitats.”
The project plan currently calls for a tailings management facility located about 14 miles west of the mine.
Koch said he doesn’t understand why the acidic tailings would be transferred to an unpolluted area, when there are rivers near the mine site that already have naturally high acidic levels and little-to-no fish populations.
“We disagree with the principle of transporting billions of tons of acidic material from a watershed that’s already naturally polluted to one that is naturally pristine,” he said.
Seabridge Gold declined to comment, citing its current participation in the mine’s environmental assessment process.
If built, the KSM project would become one of the largest open-pit mines in the world.
(KRBD and Bell Media have a cooperative agreement to share news stories of mutual interest to Southeast Alaska and British Columbia listeners.)