Thursday, July 30, 2015

Banks Island mining project now being investigated by Environment Canada

A Banks Island mining project is being
reviewed by Environment Canada
An underground gold mining project on a Northwest coastal island south of Kitkatla is being reviewed by Environment Canada after reports of a pollution spill on the site were made public in recent weeks.

Environment Canada is offering no comment related to its investigation other than the advisory that it will be the lead investigator into the incident, with support from the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service.

The Yellow Giant Mine on Banks Island received notice from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment earlier this month which issued an order related to the operations on site.

The company noted the terms of the Pollution Abatement order in a media release from July 24th, outlining how the BC Ministry of Mines had inspected the Yellow Giant Mine on July 16th and issued a stop order on the mineral process plant until a revised Sediment Control Plan, Water Management Plan and Tailings management plan was provided to the Chief Inspector.

Yellow Giant stated in the media release that they had submitted the requested reports as of July 20th.

Concerns over the way that tailings from the mine have been stored and the impact that it could have on lake and wetland areas that feed a river and other streams that salmon transit is key to the ongoing investigation.

In the fallout from the incident, the Gitxaala Nation has also indicated that they will be launching a legal action against both Banks Island Gold and the province to ensure that environmental damage that may have been caused by the spill is cleaned up.

Chief Clarence Innis of the Gitxaala First Nation also told Global BC that they have a number of concerns related to the development in their traditional territory and plan to conduct their own investigation into the incident.  He noted that along with their legal moves, the First Nation would be looking to see the mining project shut down completely.

In the same interview, Al Hoffman, the Chief Inspector of Mines for British Columbia outlined some of the details of the investigation to this point from the province and the process and possible repercussions ahead.

Both interviews can be viewed below:

The environmental group Pacific Wild has also been prominent in recent days in its efforts to draw attention to the mining project, issuing their own media release on July 27th.

Yesterday, the Vancouver Sun provided more background related to the incident that led to the current investigation.

Other news sources both local and provincial, have been following the story since the incident was first noted earlier this month.

July 29 -- Gitxaala call on Banks Island to 'clean up and get out' of traditional territory
July 27 -- Underground gold miner limits production after pollution violation
July 27 -- Province shutters mine over spills
July 23 -- Shutdown order issued for Banks Island Gold after tailings, effluent found in the environment
July 23 -- No health risk from tailings and effluent discharge says Ministry of Environment
July 23 -- Environment Ministry orders mining shutdown on Banks Island due to tailings and effluent

Some aspects of those media reports, including those from the North Coast, have been highlighted by a resource magazine as inaccurate.

Though the publication, Resource Clips did note that Banks Island Gold officials didn't do themselves any favours in the their response to interview requests regarding the incident. went even further, outlining the list of items which the Company says has not been reported accurately. The majority of which involved the current status of the production activity at the mine and the  description of the area in question as a tailings pond, items that the company expanded on with a media release from July 28th.

In that media update, the company also announced the resignation of Mr. Saurabh Handa the Director and Chief Financial Officer, noting his other commitments as the deciding factor in his departure.

His time in the upper level position with the company appears to have been rather short lived, his appointment announcement which also listed a number of other changes within the company was dated July 8th of this year.

No timeline has been outlined by Environment Canada as to the process involved with their joint investigation with the province.

More items related to mining activity in the Northwest can be found on our archive page.

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