MAC/20: Mines and Communities

New Mine poses contamination risk

Published by MAC on 2006-01-16


New mine poses contamination risk of the Exploits river

by TPAG (Trout Pond Action Group)

16th January 2006

St. John's - A proposed mining project (Dick Pond) at Trout Pond near the Exploits River poses severe risks for residents and industries located in that area, warns a local coalition of citizens and environmental groups. The chief concern is the proposed mining operations would unnecessarily set a national precedent by dumping toxic mine tailings (from copper, zinc, gold and silver) into Trout Pond, a water body frequented by salmon, trout, and waterfowl.

The proposed Duck Pond mining project is slated to be opened by AUR Resources early this year. According to the Environmental Impact Statement approved by the provincial government, Trout Pond will be used as a tailings dump for the mine's waste. The proposal requires federal approval - an amendment to regulations under the Fisheries Act, prohibiting the use of live ponds as tailings impoundments.

Trout Pond Mine to set National Precedent for Toxic Dumping

"DFO plans to amend regulations under the Fisheries Act to allow destruction of fish habitat," said Chad Griffiths, spokesperson for the Trout Pond Action Group. "This will set a national precedent, turning lakes across Canada into dumps." He added, "Mining companies across Canada are lining up to destroy our waters and natural heritage, but Newfoundlanders have the chance to stop them."

Contamination could be severe in this large ecosystem - an aquatic habitat, about the size of Quidi Vidi Lake. "Risking the contamination of the Exploits River watershed is unacceptable," said Griffiths, pointing out that it is one of the most important recreational fishery destinations in the province. The environmental impact of this project will be severe, even if accidental contamination is prevented.

No environmental compensation plan exists. The Environmental Impact Statement claims the impact of this project will be minimal, but relies on an environmental compensation agreement, yet to be seen by the public, leaving no manner of public accountability to assess the overall environmental impact.

There has not been adequate public consultation. The public consultations regarding this project occurred several years ago and reached few people. They were conducted before mining regulations and standards were amended in 2002. Many affected parties (residents, recreational fishermen, tourism industry workers, aboriginal groups etc.) have yet to be informed about the potential environmental impact of this project.

"There are better options," said Griffiths. "Artificial impoundments are the norm now. Not ruining a live body of water". Seven mining projects across await this upcoming proposed amendment that, industry experts predict, will likely give them and future mines the legal right to pollute live ponds and lakes with tailings.

"It is vital to Newfoundland and Canada that actions are taken to ensure AUR Resource develops a more environmentally sustainable alternative which does not involve dumping mine wastes in Trout Pond," said Griffiths. "We can't afford to ignore the impact of this project until the damage has been done."

[The Trout Pond Action Group is a network of concerned individuals and environmental groups from all over the province of Newfoundland, including Sierra Club of Canada (Northeast Avalon Group), Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter), MUN Project Green, Protected Areas Association, Humber Natural History Society, Natural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Society for Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility and Responsible Consumers NL].

For more information please contact:

Chad Griffiths, Spokesperson, chadgriffiths@mail.com, 709-691-1985
Stephen Mayor, Trout Pond Action Group, smayor@mun.ca, 709-579-4378
Jason Noble, Trout Pond Action Group, jdknoble@yahoo.com, 709-738-3879

For background on the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations under the Fisheries Act, or the Duck Pond Project:
http://www.cen-rce.org/eng/caucuses/mining/index.html#activities

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