28th February 2007
First Nation protesters call for mining slowdown
Lindsay Kines, Times Colonist
27 February 2007
A pair of women from the Tahltan First Nation called on the provincial government yesterday to slow a mining boom they fear threatens their traditional territory in northwest B.C.
Rhoda Quock and Eileen Doody, who were in Victoria for Mining Day at the legislature, said more than a half-dozen mines are proposed for Tahltan lands that include the Klabona or "Sacred Headwaters" of the Nass, Skeena and Stikine rivers.
"If it all occurred at the same time, our land, our wildlife, and our people will be devastated," said Quock, who speaks for the Iskut elders group Klabona Keepers.
Members of the group were arrested in 2005 for blocking a mining road in their territory.
"We're saying that we support one mine at a time," added Doody, a community liaison for the Iskut band, one of the members of the Tahltan First Nation. "If all these mines go through at once, it's basically cultural genocide."
But Mining Minister Kevin Krueger said that while some within the Tahltan First Nation have raised concerns, the government has followed a "careful consultative" process with its elected leaders.
Those leaders, he said, have supported NovaGold Canada's plan for a $1.6-billion open-pit copper-silver-gold mine at Galore Creek, which recently received provincial environmental approval.
"About 50 per cent of the workforce at the Eskay Creek mine is Tahltan people, and that mine is nearing the end of its natural life, so they're very much interested in remaining employed in the industry," he said.
Krueger rejected the idea of moving ahead with just one mine at a time.
"We're at a very rare point in our history where there is so much opportunity," he said. "Mining markets, commodity markets are cyclical, and that might well mean that opportunities are missed if we only acted on one mine at a time."
Mining Association "Digs" BC Budget 2007
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - 20 February 2007)
The Mining Association of BC (MABC) today applauds BC Budget 2007.
"We appreciate the government recognizes that the strength of the BC economy continues to come from land-based industries such as mining and oil & gas," said MABC President & CEO Michael McPhie.
Specifically, the MABC welcomes:
- Extension of the New Mines Allowance to January 1, 2016 from January 1, 2010. The allowance encourages new mine development and expansion in the province.
- The increase of the mining exploration tax credit for areas impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle.
- Increased staff capacity in the Mining & Minerals Branch of the Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources.
- Increased funding and capacity for the Environmental Assessment Office. With nearly half of all major mine development projects in Canada located in BC, this capacity is critical to the future development of the mining industry.
- Increased funding for trades' training and apprenticeships, particularly for aboriginal people.
"Combined, these initiatives will contribute towards ensuring our province remains one of the world's most competitive and advanced mining jurisdictions," added McPhie.
"Despite this good news, more work needs to be done," concluded McPhie, "Encouraging exploration will only bring long term benefits, if new mines come on-stream while prices are high."
The government is projecting diminished revenues from the mining sector over the next few years as commodity prices fluctuate. If mining is to remain a key component of the provincial economy and a critical provider of high paying jobs in all regions, then new mine approval is essential. The challenge before government and industry is to translate the more than 25 major mining projects in BC currently under review into operating mines that contribute to this province's economic engine.
The Mining Association of BC
President & CEO
(604) 681-4321 ext. 120 or Cell: (778) 772-0528
De Beers and GNWT confirm Snap Lake arrangements to support the secondary industry
Press Release from De Beers Canada and Government of the Northwest Terrirtories
19th February 2007
YELLOWKNIFE, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - De Beers Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) are pleased to confirm the arrangements by which De Beers Canada intends to fulfill its political and contractual obligations to comply with the GNWT policy regarding support for the secondary diamond industry in the Northwest Territories (NWT).
Commencing in 2008, De Beers will make available for sale ten percent (10%) of diamonds from their Snap Lake Mine in the NWT, by value, in economically cuttable categories, to GNWT approved manufacturers who have successfully fulfilled the Diamond Trading Company's (DTC's) client selection criteria. The DTC is the sales and marketing arm of De Beers.
Snap Lake's production will be sorted in Yellowknife for royalty valuation purposes in accordance with the requirements of the Canada Mining Regulations. It will be prepared in London for sale to DTC clients.
In order to ensure the identity of the Snap Lake production, the GNWT will have the right to monitor the valuation process in Yellowknife and the process for selling 10% of Snap Lake Diamonds. The arrangements also include a commitment by De Beers to provide training for NWT residents in diamond sorting.
Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Brendan Bell recently led a GNWT delegation to the DTC in London on the invitation of De Beers Canada's NWT Vice President, Chantal Lavoie.
"The purpose of inviting the GNWT to the DTC was to show how the Snap Lake diamonds will flow through the DTC, where they will be prepared and made available for sale to GNWT approved manufacturers for purchase," said Lavoie. "Ensuring the GNWT has an understanding of, and supports, De Beers' sorting and selling processes and its global distribution and marketing initiatives was animportant part of this visit," said Lavoie.
"De Beers has demonstrated how Snap Lake diamonds will be prepared and made available for sale," said Minister Bell. "I am confident that GNWT approved manufacturers, who qualify as DTC clients, will have equitable access to Snap Lake rough diamonds and that we will be able to certify these diamonds as mined, cut and polished in the NWT."
In March this year, GNWT approved manufacturers will be able to attend a presentation in Toronto on the DTC client application process so that they can take steps to apply for Sightholder status for a three-year period commencing in 2008.
For further information:
Cathie Bolstad, Manager, Public & Corporate Affairs, NWT Projects, De Beers Canada Inc., Tel: (867) 766-7325
Julia Mott, Coordinator, Cabinet Communications, Office of the Premier, Government of the Northwest Territories, Tel: (867) 669-2304
Huge open pit mine approved: NovaGold's Galore Creek project will create 1,000 jobs in four years of construction
Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun
24th February 2007
One of North America's largest mine projects reached a major milestone with an environmental approval by the British Columbia government, NovaGold Canada announced Friday.
The Vancouver company's $2 billion project at Galore Creek in northwestern B.C. is a world-class copper-silver-gold deposit that may someday rival Teck Cominco's venerable Highland Valley copper mine near Kamloops for size and scope.
It will take four years to build the open pit mine, creating 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 500 to run the mine when the project is complete.
Pending federal approvals and issuance of mine permits, construction of the access road could begin as early as April.
Ottawa has yet to sign off on the project -- but federal agencies have already indicated in a joint report with Victoria that environmental effects will be within acceptable levels if carried out according to NovaGold's development proposals.
The project is supported by the elected leadership of the local first nation, the Tahltan, and is considered by environmental groups to present no serious environmental risks.
"This is obviously a very major step for us. We've been working hard on this for three years and we feel really good about it," NovaGold president-CEO Rick Nieuwenhuyse said in an interview.
Support by the Tahltan Central Council was fundamental to the project's success, he said.
"When you are working in their community, in their territory, you can't just pay lip service to the concept of respect. You're going to be investing lots of money, but you are going to be doing it in a way
Tse Keh Nay
Takla First Nation ~ Tsay Keh Dene ~ Kwadacha First Nation
P.O. Box 2310, Prince George, B.C., V2N 2J8
Phone: 250-564-9321 Fax: 250-564-9521
February 22, 2007
Dear Premier Campbell,
The Tse Keh Nay welcomed your Speech from the Throne on February 13. It was heartening to hear that your government "stands firmly for the recognition and respect of Aboriginal rights, title, and self-determination within the Canadian Constitution." And that your government is equally up to the challenge of providing "environmental leadership" as it pertains to dealing with local environmental threats and on the broader issue of combating global warming. And yet, we are very concerned with the apparent contradiction between these important commitments and a recent comment attributed to you in the media regarding the proposed Kemess North mine proposal. It said you were "looking into delays in the process" around that mine's environmental assessment review.
Northgate Minerals Corporation's Kemess North mine is currently undergoing a joint federal and provincial panel review. One of the crucial environmental considerations the panel is considering is whether the company's proposal to use Amazay Lake as a waste dump can be done in an environmentally appropriate manner. We state that it cannot ever be done nor should ever be done because the proposal includes the use of a fish-bearing lake for a mine waste dump. That is the unequivocal position of our communities. And we state that in the strongest terms possible. Therefore, the problem with this particular application is not the length of its environmental review - or so called delays - but rather that this asinine storage proposal should not have advanced this far in the review process in the first place.
Amazay Lake lies in the heart of our territory and is a well-spring for our culture. We have un-extinguished Aboriginal rights and title there, including important spiritual, hunting, fishing, medicine-gathering, burial sites and cultural sites. Since the B.C. treaty process began, each one of our First Nations has made significant investments in time and money to negotiate a fair treaty, one that would reconcile our respective rights and titles with the assertion of the Crown's sovereignty. But that hasn't happened yet for reasons best left to another time to discuss.
To date, we have had limited participation in the Kemess North public review hearings, including the process leading up to them. Where we have participated it has been "under protest". This is because the entire review process is flawed. It does not work for us. It needs to be fixed. Since 2002, the province's environmental assessment legislation has gone backwards. Before then, there was a requirement to have First Nations as partners on a project committee to design individual reviews. In our case, we did not contribute to the design of the Kemess North review nor did we have a meaningful role in how it was eventually carried out. As it is now, the province must deal with two primary issues: 1) reconcile our aboriginal title, rights, and interests with its own industrial development aims, and 2) revisit with us the Kemess North environmental assessment process, given that it purports to evaluate and screen out unacceptable industrial impacts on the environment, which in effect are our homelands.
For the past nine months we have tried to engage the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to negotiate a mining protocol with us. Our proposal is to work with your government and other stakeholders on a land-use plan that designates where and how mining can take place in our territory. We are more than willing to work with government and industry to develop mines in an environmentally sustainable manner and in appropriate areas. Therefore, we remind you of your commitment to Tsay Keh Dene Grand Chief Gordon Pierre to meet with us in the coming weeks to discuss our concerns. We can discuss this proposal further at that meeting. In the meantime, we ask that your government re-consider its support for the unconventional and socially and environmentally unacceptable mine waste storage proposal that it currently contained in the Kemess North copper-gold mine application. Doing so, we think, would be consistent with your government's pledge to be a leader on environmental matters.
We look forward to your correspondence. Thank you.
In the Spirit of the New Relationship,
Chief John Allen French
Takla First Nation
On Behalf of the Tse Keh Nay
Letter to Editor, Prince George Citizen:
17th February 2007
Kemess North shouldn't be allowed to procede
by D. Fox
Kemess mines seems to be determined to pollute Duncan Lake.
A review panel is analyzing the gold and copper mines application. The panel's time extension has upset CEO Ken Stowe. He was hoping for quick approval.
He dangles the job carrot and insists the Kemess North expansion plan will not proceed without approval to pollute Duncan Lake. He tells Citizen reporter Gordon Hoekstra "other options are too expensive" but hasn't told anyone to my knowledge what the "other" options are.
Kemess has now operated several years. Gold and copper exceeds expected yields. Gold and copper prices have risen and seem to have bright futures.
Readers, please note that Kemess South uses a manmade tailings pond. A man-made dam at the lower edge of a dry mountain valley holds the contaminated mine waste. No fish had to die, no animals were denied their watering hole and few First Nations hunted there.
Duncan Lake is a very different story. Six to seven kilometers long with approximately 20 kilometers of shoreline, abundant with fish, watering hole to thousands of animals and birds and a long revered bountiful hunting area of First Nations. A high elevation lake near the headwaters of the Finlay River Watershed.
Two thousand Scientists recently warned the world to expect more rain, higher snow packs and flooding. The review panel and CEO Ken Stowe should heed these warnings. Kemess admits polluting the lake will kill all the fish, knows it will kill or harm animals and birds and affect the traditional hunting of First nations. My guess is cancers will appear in animals, birds and effect food chains and First Nations who harvest in the area.
During construction it was well known that Kemess North deposit existed. All of Kemess South's facilities will service the Kemess North expansion. Transporting the ore further is required. Ken Stowe should seriously rethink his waste handling.
Premier Gordon Campbell wants B.C. to be the greenest, most environmentally friendly province. I doubt that polluting a sensitive ecosystem popular with First Nations will get approval from the three-member review panel.
Put a "real" plan together CEO Ken Stowe, it may not make you "as" popular with Kemess shareholders, particularly the "huge" shareholders. Polluting Duncan Lake should never happen.
All such applications should be vetoed and never waste taxpayers dollars being considered. We need to learn to say NO, when things don't make sense.
-- D. Fox
Premier Says We Need a Fresh look at Process
by 250 News
16th February 2007
Premier Gordon Campbell says we need to synchronize the environmental permitting process between the federal and provincial governments, in order to increase efficiencies and decrease wait times for developers.
"We really only need one process," he says, "Because we are serving the same people."
The Premier says he is looking into delays in the process at the Kemess North Mine.
The company recently said it may have to lay off workers because it will not be able to get the necessary permits in time to develop the new mine.
N.W.T. has unique way of managing boom: Communities have a say in charting the future path of the economy. And when the people speak, cabinet ministers pay attention
by Paul Boothe, Edmonton Journal
14th February 2007
Many Albertans were shocked and a little horrified when former premier Ralph Klein confessed that there was no plan to manage the energy boom in Alberta.
More recently, Premier Ed Stelmach has vowed not to "touch the brake" on oilsands development -- in effect, declining any responsibility for managing the growth of Alberta's economy. As a result, Albertans are faced with runaway government spending, widespread skill shortages and rampant inflation in a dangerously overheated economy.
This is in sharp contrast to the approach taken by our neighbour to the north. Faced with growing economic activity from the Northwest Territories' diamond mines and the prospect of the Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP), Finance Minister Floyd Roland has launched an impressive, community-based planning process to chart the future path of the territories' economy.
The process began in November 2006. Full-day workshops were held in Yellowknife and Inuvik to consult with business and community leaders. Three University of Alberta professors, Mike Percy, Joseph Doucet and I were invited to act as facilitators, and this gave us ring-side seats to observe genuine, community-based economic planning in action.
The process the finance minister used to do his planning was simple and easy to understand.
N.W.T. finance officials first prepared a workbook that presented the basic economic data and projections for the future. The workbook laid out some of the key choices that northerners face and the implications of different scenarios. Finally, the workbook posed questions to business and community leaders to focus their discussion. The workbook was made available on the Internet so that all northerners could see what was being discussed and contribute their views, either through workshop participants or directly using e-mail.
The workshops were a breath of fresh air. No suits, no political posturing, just honest discussion of the challenges to be faced.
REACHING A CONSENSUS
Northerners are not shy about expressing themselves and there were some vigorous debates among participants. However, at the end of the day there was an impressive amount of consensus about where they wanted their economy and communities to go and what needed to be done to get there.
Roland spent the full day at each workshop doing what politicians rarely take time for these days: listening. At the end of each day, he summarized the discussions to show participants that he had heard and understood their ideas.
What goals did northerners set for themselves as they prepare to manage their economic boom? The results will sound familiar to many Albertans:
-- Northerners want to be the primary beneficiaries of economic growth. They want to use the boom to strengthen their communities and make the N.W.T. less dependant on the federal government.
-- They want to prepare to manage growth. This means having goals and a plan and the infrastructure, skills and community supports in place when they are needed.
-- They want their economy to be balanced and sustainable. This means that the benefits should be shared among aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, big and small communities. Northerners want their economy to grow in a way that preserves the natural environment and permits the people who choose to the ability to continue with their traditional way of life.
Business and community leaders didn't just talk about their goals for the N.W.T. economy. They also focused attention on strategies to achieve them.
Here are their top five priorities for government action:
-- Both the quality and quantity of education must be improved for northerners to participate and benefit from the economic boom.
-- Investments in transportation infrastructure will be critical to open up areas for development and to reduce the cost of living in remote communities.
-- Strong regulations must be in place to protect the environment. The process for gaining environmental approval should ensure that the full environmental costs of development are considered.
-- Communities must have the capacity to benefit from economic growth. Different communities will have different needs, such as transportation infrastructure, schools, health care, and the basic building blocks need to be in place.
-- Decision-making must be streamlined. Government departments need to work together to ensure that good decisions are made as efficiently as possible.
In the territorial budget tabled last week, Roland began to implement the plan. Whether it will be successful will depend on a number of factors.
Will industry, aboriginal groups and the federal and N.W.T. governments reach an agreement on the pipeline? Will the federal government agree to a devolution agreement with the N.W.T. to provide the resource revenues needed to fund investments in infrastructure and education? Will northerners be able to remain united and focused on their goals?
Only time will tell.
But it will be a fascinating experiment to watch -- one from which Albertans could learn a lot.
[Paul Boothe is professor and fellow of the Institute for Public Economics at the University of Alberta. In the past, he has served as Deputy Minister of Finance for Saskatchewan and G7 Deputy for Canada]
Cree seek no-mining area in James Bay:
Preserve biodiversity, stop gold exploration
LYNN MOORE, The Gazette
23rd February 2007
The Wemindji Cree are seeking an immediate moratorium on mining activity in almost 4,800 square kilometres of their territory in the James Bay, a region where gold and diamond exploration is in high gear.
The Cree community, which has seen Hydro-Quebec projects and a major gold camp move into parts of its territory, has long been lobbying Quebec to protect the relatively unscathed Old Factory River and Poplar River watersheds.
But, even after a biodiversity reserve was formally requested in March, new mining claims were permitted in the heart of the proposed reserve, according to Rodney Mark, chief of the Cree Nation of Wemindji.
Yesterday, Mark signalled that any exploration activity within the proposed reserve will be viewed as an incursion.
"We will pursue any and all means possible to prevent mining activity in the (two) watersheds ... the majority of which lie in our Category II lands," said Mark in a letter dispatched to Economic Development Minister Claude Bechard and Natural Resources Minister Pierre Corbeil.
Under the James Bay agreement, the Cree have exclusive hunting rights on Category II lands, and development is subject to special restrictions.
"All river and lake systems in our territory larger than the Old Factory and Poplar river watersheds have already been taken for hydroelectric development. These last remaining larger watersheds are ecologically fundamental to the continuity of Cree hunting and hunting culture and could not be replaced," Mark said.
Citing support for the proposed reserve from the Grand Council of the Crees, Mark requested "on an urgent basis, an immediate moratorium on the registration" of mineral claims within the area and requested that current claims not be renewed.
And, "we must insist on all possible measures to restrict further disturbance" on sites subject to current claims, he said.
Among the companies and individuals that have claims within the proposed reserve are Exploration Azimut Inc., which last June announced the signing of a letter of intent with Cambior Inc. for its "Comptoir property."
According to the Cree, about 85 per cent of that property - comprised of 796 claims - lies within the proposed reserve.
Another company is Ressources Dianor Inc., a diamond-exploration company that, according to the Cree, has about 30 claims within the proposed reserve.
The Eleonore gold camp - which was at the heart of Goldcorp Inc.'s $500-million all-stock takeover of Virginia Gold Mines in 2005 - lies just outside the proposed reserve.
(Goldcorp president Ian Telfer described his new camp as located in the core of "one of the most promising new gold districts in North America.")
The Eleonore discovery, combined with Ashton Mining Canada Inc.'s discovery of diamond-rich kimberlite to the north, sent scores of prospectors into the region where other minerals like uranium are also being sought.
Mark, whose council has its own mineral-exploration firm, said that the Wemindji community is not anti-development. It recently entered into a "collaboration agreement" with Goldcorp.
"Cooperation with such projects makes sense only in a context of protecting the ecological and cultural integrity of crucial portions of our territory," Mark's letter said.
Colin Scott, of McGill University's anthropology department, is the head of a team of university researchers who have explored the area and helped the Cree determine the best region for a protected area, using Quebec's criteria as one measure.
"All in all, the area proposed for protected status is remarkably intact, both ecologically and in terms of the Cree traditional activities that depend on that ecology," the proposal for the biodiversity reserve said.
lmoore at thegazette.canwest.com © The Gazette (Montreal) 2007
Meadowbank mine to get new owner: Cumberland sells out for $710 million
18th February 2007
The Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake will likely get a new owner by April, following an announcement Feb. 14 that in a friendly take-over bid, Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. will acquire Cumberland Resources, the small Vancouver firm that developed the project.
The deal, which Cumberland's board of directors approved this week, is worth $710 million. In it, Agnico-Eagle will acquire all the shares of Cumberland Resources by exchanging .185 of a share in Agnico-Eagle for every Cumberland Resources share.
Agnico-Eagle is a mid-size Canadian gold mining firm with projects in Finland, northern Mexico, the western U.S. and northern Quebec.
The Meadowbank project, about 70 km from Baker Lake, is Cumberland Resources' main asset. Cumberland has now acquired all necessary permits and licences to build the $375 million mine, based on an ore body that contains at least 2.9 million ounces of gold.
Agnico-Eagle says they want to acquire the Meadowbank property because Nunavut possesses a "low political risk profile" and because they believe further exploration will expand the size of the gold deposit there.
Right now, Meadowbank's estimated life is about eight years. But Agnico-Eagle believes the area has the potential to become a "multi-decade mining camp."
The deal is expected to close in April.
Meanwhile, Cumberland announced last week they now have all necessary permits to build a 110-km all-weather road from Baker Lake to the mine site. That includes an agreement with the Kivalliq Inuit Association to build the road through Inuit-owned lands.
The mining company is contracting Nuna Logistics Ltd. to build the road and will spend $250,000 on training for Inuit. About 40 people from Baker Lake, selected from a list of about 200 applicants, will receive training.
The company estimates that at full operation, the road construction project will employ 43 Inuit out of a total work force of 64 people.
Exploration companies remain cool to Nunavut
8th February 2007
Nunavut's mineral potential seems to have lost its lustre, with only 150 exploration permits issued in 2006.
Although that is only slightly fewer than the 160 issued in 2005, it is considerably less than the boom years of 2004 and 2005, when more than 1,000 were issued each year and people lined up for days to acquire them.
The permits give mining companies the exclusive right to explore for minerals on Crown-owned land.
Indian and Northern Affairs official Spencer Dewar said the low number of permits is no cause for concern.
"It would be natural to see a slowdown after a rush, as some of the groundwork has to be done just to see what is out there," Dewar told CBC News.
"I think, if you see some positive results start to come back from some of the exploration camps, I think you could see another rush in the future."
The new permits are fairly evenly divided across Nunavut, with slightly more interest in the Baffin Island area, Dewar said.
The permits issued in 2006 cover about six million acres.