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

Column: themes from the 2017 B.C. Flood and Wildfire Report

Columnist Jim Hilton offers an overview of the new fire and flood report’s 14 Strategic Shifts

Big victory for Quesnel’s U16 girls softball team in Kamloops

Unstoppable bats and a gem from Musselman propelled the girls to the win

Local athletes impress on Day 1 of Zone track and field event

CSS, QJS students showed off impressive skill as Quesnel hosts North Central Zone Championships

Tsilhqot’in community names officially recognized by Province

Tsilhqot’in names will now appear on provincial government resources, maps and databases

Editorial: respect where it’s due

Quesnel’s youth are impressive in their maturity and eloquence

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

UPDATED: Almost 1,200 people allowed to return home in Kootenay-Boundary as floods dry up

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Most Read