Mining watchdog, miningwatch.ca says, "Alternatives to using the lakes for tailings (toxic waste from mining) disposal were never properly evaluated, and the plan to compensate for the destruction is inadequate."
According to Dr. Gibson, under the Fisheries Act, no toxic waste can be deposited into a fish bearing habitat. He made a great point as he described his objection to how Aur Resources thinks it's cheaper to use a pond as a dump.
Because if you were obliged to make a lake the size of Quidi Vidi, stock it with unique fish community, birds, plants, fur bearing creatures, etc., it wouldn't be done. And yet they think it's cheaper.Chad Griffiths added that an artificial impoundment alternative was not mentioned in the Environmental Impact statement.
What's equally upsetting is that this seems to be slipping through with the quiet approval of the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) and Environment Canada (EC). When such a project is undertaken a proper environmental assessment is required, and all alternatives to using new ponds, i.e., ponds that have not previously been used for dumping toxins, have to be explored. This is one of the problems. There is an alternative to using pristine bodies of water to hold mining waste.
Located near Val d'Or, Quebec, the Louvicourt Mine has been in operation since 1994. Aur Resources was a 30% owner as well as mine manager. The decision was made to not destroy natural water bodies for mine waste disposal, but to create manmade structures, and it was "overall a successful endeavour."
Right now it seems that the only reason Aur Resources want to use Duck Pond and Trout Pond is pure greed, that is, it is more cost efficient. Meanwhile, the prices for copper and zinc are at a higher rate now than when the Duck Pond proposal was first put forward. I have yet to hear of a reason why besides saving a few bucks for the company, that an artificial containment facility cannot be constructed.
Another problem mentioned by Mining Watch Canada, Dr. Gibson and Chad Griffiths, is that the fish capacity study, mandated by DFO for Aur Resources to conduct on Trout Pond, was not carried out correctly. For example, testing on fish habitat was supposed to be done over a period of time after the late summer when temperatures are high. However, Aur Resources did a study for 10 days during the summer. This flawed study (see p. 4) was also applied to another pond. So the methodology was wrong, and yet DFO and EC are allowing Aur Resources to move forward with thier plan to ruin ponds in Central Newfoundland.
Yet another suspicious ommision from Aur Resource's plan is that they provide no evidence that a bond has been posted adequate to cover costs of perpetual monitoring of ground and surface waters around the mine and perpetual maintenance of the dams that will keep the toxic mine waste from contaminating the Exploits River system. - Mining Watch Canada
The mine will only operate for 6.3 years, but the maintainance of the mine and waste disposal area will be permanent.
Mining Watch Canada (MWC) is a pan-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Aboriginal and labour organisations from across the country. MWC is currently participating, as a member of The Canadian Environmental Network (CEN), in a multistakeholder review of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER). A revised regulations came into force in 2002 - following a 12 year review process - with a new appendix, Schedule 2, that was added at the very end of the review process. Schedule 2 identifies tailings impoundment areas. By being placed on Schedule 2 a natural water body is redefined as a tailings impoundment area. The new Schedule 2 would allow new ponds and lakes to be used as toxic dumps. Aur Resources can set a dangerous precedent by getting permission to add Duck & Trout Ponds to the Schedule 2.
Chad Griffiths described this action as a "significant and substantial change in Canadian Environment Policy." He goes on to say that this
lays the limbo bar relatively low for any mining company in Canada to say 'there's a pond relatively close to our operation .. so why not here?' It's a dangerous precedent.In 2002, CEN representatives in the review process were assured that Schedule 2 would serve to deal with 'historic' cases in which lakes had been used as tailings impoundment as these mines would otherwise find themselves out of compliance with the regulation. Environment Canada and DFO officials have approved the inclusion of these two ponds onto Schedule 2 of the revised regulations.
Aur Resources and Canadian regulating authorities (Environment Canada, DFO) are statutorily obligated to seek alternatives to the destruction of fresh water bodies for industrial purposes.
According to Mining Watch, Aur Resources, the NL Dept. of Environment & Conservation, and DFO, did not do all they could to explore alternatives to the destruction of two ponds for mine waste disposal.
|How will the ponds be polluted?|
AMD (Acid Mine Drainage) is the number one problem facing the mining industry in Canada. AMD occurs when sulphide-bearing minerals in rock are exposed to air and water, changing the sulphide to sulphuric acid. This acid dissolves heavy metals such as lead, zinc, copper, arsenic, cadminium, selenium and mercury into ground and surface water. Certain bacteria, naturally present, can significantly increase the rate of this reaction. - source: Mining Watch Canada
As alluded to earlier this is a dangerous and significant backward step in environmental protection and conservation. There are other mining companies already lining up to use the Schedule 2 to allow other pristine waters in different parts of Canada for toxic waste disposal (the Red Chris & Kemess North projects in BC, and the Wabush mine in Labrador). There will probably be more areas of Newfoundland & Labrador considered to be mining prospects. If the Duck Pond Mine precedent is set, then many other fish bearing ponds could be destroyed in the future. So is this really taking control of our resources, and not give aways? I don't think so. Our elected officials past and present should have demanded no less than the preservation of our land and water, and no further damage to new and previously untouched ponds and lakes.
It seemed like a bit of dark humour when Aur Resources used the innocent sounding Duck Pond Mine, to name their polluting mine. I would like to see people get work but not see Duck Pond's name changed to Dead Duck Pond in the near future.
We have a beautiful province and fresh water is one of the most valuable resources we have. As a citizen of this province I object to the way that this project is taking place. Jobs for people in the Buchans area are important, but Aur Resources can develop its mine but not to the detriment of our pristine environment. When they are gone in 7 years, they might be leaving behind a perpetual toxic mess for the people of our province to have to pay for and maintain. However, this does not have to be the case. They can use the alternative of a manmade containment structure to hold the waste, and at the same time, preserve our ponds, fish, wildlife, and provide people with employment. For my part I will write the NL Department of Environment, and contacts at Mining Watch Canada to add my protest to the way this mining project is being planned.
* Chad Griffiths (firstname.lastname@example.org) announced that there is a meeting on Wed., May 24, at the MUN University Centre, Rm. 2000.
NL Dept. of Environment and Conservation
Minister Clyde Jackman, 729-2574
Call the CBC Noon Line to voice your opinion on this, 576-5262. The toll free number is 1-866-576-5262 for long distance anywhere in North America.
Here are other contacts in case anyone is interested to send a message regarding this issue: