VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – A Canadian federal agency has rejected a request for review (RfR) by nongovernmental organisation (NGO) the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) of the permitting process regarding Seabridge Gold’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) project, in British Columbia.
The Canadian National Contact Point (NCP) – an interdepartmental committee chaired by the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department and promoting adherence to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) non-binding Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – concluded that a complaint it received in December 2016 regarding aspects of its environmental assessment review process did not merit further examination and its file has now been closed after only the initial assessment level of review.
“The NCP did not find that the issues raised in the RfR with respect to disclosure, stakeholder engagement and environment and human rights due diligence, would benefit from an intervention from the NCP in the form of facilitated dialogue or mediation,” the NCP said in a report dated November 13, and published on Monday.
Seabridge has received provincial and federal approvals for its KSM project, located in north-western British Columbia, in 2014.
The NCP found that the KSM project was subject to a rigorous and detailed environmental assessment process by both the federal and provincial governments.
“We are pleased that the thoroughness of the federal and provincial joint environmental assessment review process for KSM has been acknowledged and that this complaint has been dismissed. I want to thank Canada’s NCP for its detailed investigation and reiterate that Seabridge remains committed to continuing engagement with the people of north-western BC and south-eastern Alaska, including Treaty and First Nations, as the KSM project moves toward development,” stated Seabridge chairperson and CEO Rudi Fronk on Tuesday.
The massive KSM project is billed as one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world. An updated preliminary feasibility study estimates proven and probable reserves totalling 38.8-million ounces of gold and 10.2-billion pounds of copper.
The SEACC has been ramping up false rhetoric against the KSM project in recent months, claiming in its latest Fall issue newsletter, Ravencall, that KSM will be one of the largest and wettest mines in the world; that the proposed technology to collect and treat the expected amount of contaminated water from the acid generating mine is unproven; that there is no evidence that the current technology (for selenium) is capable of removing a sufficient amount of selenium to meet Alaska’s standard by the time it reaches the border at quantities proposed; and that, despite an agreement between British Columbia and Alaska, the province approved Seabridge’s plan and does not require the company to demonstrate a selenium treatment process until five years into construction.
The SEACC also contested that the Canadian federal government amended Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations fisheries protection, allowing Seabridge to replace fish bearing streams with a tailings management facility (TMF), similar to the design that the Mount Polley Independent Review Panel advised against. The NGO argued that this was a federal Canadian action and that Alaska, as a mere state, had no voice at the table, underscoring the need for the US federal government to be directly involved in transboundary mine-related issues.
Seabridge has previously refuted each of the allegations, retorting to the latter allegation that KSM’s TMF is not located within transboundary waters. In fact, simple geography shows that the TMF drains into the Bell-Irving drainage basin and ultimately flows into the Nass River, which is located entirely within Canada’s jurisdiction, and not Alaska’s. “On this basis, we are unsure as to why SEACC would demand a role in this permitting process,” said Seabridge environmental affairs VP Brent Irving in a statement on October 27.