Predicted Water Quality and Loadings to the Unuk River
Protecting and improving the water quality in and around the KSM project is one of the top priorities of the Project, therefore a Water Treatment Plant (WTP) which will not only manage water that has been in contact with mining activities, but also improve the existing naturally poor water quality in the area, has been proposed.
The proposed KSM Project is within the Unuk River watershed, which flows into Alaska and discharges into Burroughs Bay and eventually the Pacific Ocean. Sulphurets Creek is a main tributary of the Unuk River. Along its flow path to its confluence with the Unuk River, Sulphurets Creek flows receive inputs from several tributaries, the largest being Mitchell Creek.
A comparison of predicted water quality, metal loadings of waters flowing into Alaska under existing (baseline) conditions and during development of the Project, when the proposed WTP is operating and discharging to Mitchell Creek was recently compiled.
According to the findings of this comparison:
- Existing waters of Mitchell Creek currently flowing into the Unuk River via Sulphurets Creek are naturally high in metals
- Existing concentrations of water quality parameters in Mitchell Creek are above both applicable B.C. and Alaskan guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life
- WTP effluent is of better quality than the existing water quality of Mitchell Creek, indicating that Project effluent represents an improvement over natural background conditions.
- WTP discharges to Mitchell Creek throughout the life of the KSM Project will improve water quality and largely decrease metal loadings in waters flowing into Alaska via Mitchell Creek, Sulphurets Creek and the Unuk River.
Under the proposed plan, an extensive water management system will divert natural waters away from the mine site, and collect contact water to be stored and treated by the WTP, which, in turn, will be released to Mitchell Creek. This process will assist in improving the water quality around the mine site.
The Project has successfully gone through the Provincial and Federal Environmental Assessment process and the appropriate certificates/approvals have been obtained. Permits for early stage construction activities have also been obtained.
The detailed comparison report can be found here – Predicted Water Quality and Loadings to the Unuk River