MAC: Mines and Communities

Northgate told to go back to drawing board

Published by MAC on 2008-03-07

Northgate told to go back to drawing board

7th March 2008

Not surprisingly, the federal Canadian government and BC provincial government have accepted the recommendation of an independent panel, that Northgate Minerals can't be allowed to dump tailings into a pristine lake. Nonetheless, Northgate can re-submit its environmental plan, while other companies have not yet been ordered to desist from using lakes as dumping grounds for their wastes.


For Immediate Release

7th March 2008

Ministry of Environment Fisheries and Oceans Canada

VICTORIA - The Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia announced today that they will accept the recommendation of an independent environmental assessment panel that the proposed Kemess North copper-gold mine should not proceed in its present form. The mine is located in north central B.C. about 250 km northeast of Smithers and 450 km northwest of Prince George.

The federal and provincial governments took the decision after considering the panel's 246-page report. The panel was mandated in May 2005 by the federal Environment Minister and the B.C. Minister of Sustainable Resource Management to assess the environmental effects of the proposed Kemess North project, and delivered its report on Sept. 17, 2007.

Northgate Minerals Corporation, the project's proponent, had proposed to expand its existing Kemess South copper and gold mine to include a new open pit mine, modification of the existing mill that processes ore from the Kemess South mine, and related infrastructure. Northgate's proposal included putting more than 700 million tonnes of sulphide tailings and waste rock from the new mine in nearby Duncan Lake, also known as Amazay Lake among First Nations.

The panel held public hearings in Smithers, Prince George, Victoria and Kwadacha (Fort Ware) between October 2006 and May 2007. It received submissions and heard oral presentations from Northgate Minerals, Aboriginal groups, federal and provincial government agencies, environmental groups, individuals and local governments, northern B.C. business interests, and mining organizations. Based on its review of the project and consultations, the panel concluded that the project, as proposed, would not be in the public interest and that the benefits provided by the project are outweighed by the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and cultural effects.

This decision does not preclude the proponent from seeking to modify the project proposal by addressing the factors considered by the panel, and requesting another environmental assessment in the future.

Contact: Phil Jenkins
Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613 993-5413

Kate Thompson
Manager, Media Relations
Ministry of Environment
250 889-7972

Steve Outhouse
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613 992-3474

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