Mine Project Stopped in Northern B.C. Due to Social and Cultural Effects

Mine firm puts plan for big northern project on shelf

By Leanne Ritchie , The Daily News

Published: Tuesday, November 06, 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

“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.

Click here to read the panel’s executive summary

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