Over the past four decades, 12 metal mines have operated within the transboundary watershed of Northwest British Columbia and Alaska. Today there are only two mines operating in the region. See maps below.
Seabridge has noted some confusion regarding its KSM Project as it relates to Alaskan waters. It is important to remember:
- The KSM tailings management facility (TMF) is not situated in waters upstream of the US border. KSM’s TMF is situated within the Nass River Watershed which flows entirely into Canadian waters. (See map)
- Seabridge worked extensively with Alaskan State and US Federal regulators (EPA, DOI, NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Service), having more than 85 different meetings and interactions with these regulators through the Environmental Assessment (EA) process to learn about and address the concerns of Alaskans. (See list of meetings with US and Alaskan agencies and regulators)
- Seabridge worked in close collaboration with all regulators, including Alaskan officials, to ensure that downstream waters were not impacted by the proposed operations. During the course of the EA, significant design changes, in excess of $300 million, were made to the water management system proposed at the mine site. Both the Canadian Federal and Provincial regulators determined KSM will not have an impact on US waters. Questions from Alaska regulatory agencies were addressed and answered throughout the Environmental Assessment process and as a result, no outstanding concerns remain.
Read our letter requesting correction of a publishing error regarding the location of the KSM Project’s TMF on the map contained within the fall issue of Ravencall. For additional informational purposes read the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Comprehensive Study Report for the KSM Project (Read the assessment here). View corrected map.
Read a letter written to BC Minister of Energy and Mines, the Honourable Bill Bennett from Dirk van Zyl (engineer and one of the Mount Polley report authors) clarifying that dry stack tailings is not the only best available technology for managing tailings.
Read an April 11, 2014 Juneau Empire article where a representative of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources stated “Four of the same resource managers and specialists who review Alaskan mines have examined KSM’s plan. They found no significant issues with the application.”
A report authored by Michael Price titled Sub-lethal metal toxicity concerns for Unuk watershed salmonids from Seabridge Gold’s proposed KSM mine is often used to claim Seabridge will release metals into the Unuk watershed that would exceed levels known to have serious impacts on salmon.
During the Environmental Assessment review for the KSM project, Dr. Chris Kennedy, a water toxicologist from Simon Fraser University, assessed the Price report and concluded “The COPC (contaminants of potential concern) screening approach used by Rescan (a Seabridge consultant) has followed standard risk assessment approaches, as recommended by the BC MoE (Ministry of Environment), the CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment) and Environment Canada. The seven metals evaluated by Price (2014) were not identified as COPCs based on concentrations less than the BCWQ (BC Water Quality) or less than baseline concentrations, and therefore, no further evaluation was required. Furthermore, the Price (2014) review does not acknowledge the water treatment proposed for the Mine Site, which will reportedly result in a significant reduction of metals concentrations. It is our opinion that Rescan has relied on the best available science and methods to predict the potential for discharge from the Mine Site to affect aquatic life, including salmonids, in the Unuk River Watershed.” (Read the assessment here)
The regulators responsible for the KSM Environmental Assessment accepted Dr. Kennedy’s report and discounted Mr. Price’s.