MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Company withdraws from controversial Canadian project

Published by MAC on 2007-11-06


Company withdraws from controversial Canadian project

6th November 2007

Earlier this year, a Canadian government panel recommended banning mining by Northgate Minerals, in order to a lake in northern British Colombia and respect native Canadian spiritual values. See:

http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1650.htm

Now the company has abandoned the project.


Mine firm puts plan for big northern project on shelf

By Leanne Ritchie , The Daily News, Prince Rupert

6th November 2007

Northgate Minerals has taken its plans for the $200-million Kemess North mine in northern B.C. off its books, and will no longer treat the project as part of its future plans, said the company's CEO.

"Given the negative recommendation of the (federal, provincial environmental review) panel and tremendous uncertainty created, Northgate can no longer treat the Kemess North project as a core part of our business plan," said Ken Stowe, Northgate CEO.

In September, a joint federal, provincial environmental review panel said the company had met all the requirements of the federal and provincial governments to proceed with the mine.

However, it would not recommend proceeding with the mine because the impacts on aboriginal people - the unlikeliness of their communities embracing the project and benefits, and the loss of spiritual values of Duncan lake, which would be used to dispose of tailings - were a "significant drawback."

"The economic and social benefits provided by the project, on balance, are outweighed by the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and cultural effects, some of which may not emerge until many years after mining operations cease," said the panel.

The project included constructing a second open pit just north of the existing Kemess South mine, 425 kilometres northwest of Prince George. It was meant to to increase the life of the operation of the Kemess mine another decade, continuing 350 existing jobs.

"Northgate strongly disagrees with the panel's decision and believes the project is engineered to world-class standards and could provide a tremendous economic benefit to British Columbia," said Stowe.

He specifically noted the panel said it was satisfied with the mitigation measures planned by the company, both environmental and social, and that the science and engineering of the panel were of high order.

"This is a bar set so high that virtually all resource projects and operating mines, including those operating or under consideration in B.C. would find impossible to clear," Stowe said.

"It is always difficult for a project proponent or supporter to deal with opposition based on spiritual or religious beliefs. These beliefs are inherently subjective and deeply personal. It is up to government to balance these beliefs against the economic and other benefits of development, to determine what is in the best public interest."

The company posted a loss of more than US$11.9 million for the third quarter after it booked a $32.3 million non-cash write-down of the carrying value of the Kemess North project.

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