Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Over the last month, a number of different articles and releases have come out that have been critical of the mining being done in British Columbia, Canada.
News of The North spoke with Michael Goehring, the President of the Mining Association of British Columbia, in order to get the BC perspective on the conversation.
"Our industry's highest priority is protecting the health and safety of workers, local indigenous communities, and the environment through responsible mining and tailings management," Goehring said.
"You know, British Columbia - Alaska natural resource industries on both sides of the border, have a shared responsibility to ensure the highest standards and environmental protection and transboundary water quality are in place. So, you know, we've seen a number of articles and news releases published in Alaska. And some make inaccurate statements or ignore the facts about the laws and regulations that govern B.C.'S mining industry, and our commitment to socially and environmentally responsible mining. The fact is, is that B.C.'s mining industry now meets some of the highest regulatory standards and laws in the world for environmental assessment, operational permitting, compliance and enforcement, and post-closure, monitoring, and reclamation."
The Mining Association of British Columbia contacted News of the North following an article that was published based on a press release from the Alaska House Coalition, consisting of members of the House of Representatives, although this was not the only article or news release that has been critical of mining within British Columbia.
"We continue to hear that there are dozens of mines and development projects in the region, when in fact, that's not the case. There are two operating mines in the region, Red Chris and Bruce Jack that operate in Northwest BC and Tahltan territory. And there are a number of proposed mines in the area KSM, Gore Creek, and Aska Creek. A couple of these projects will be entering the regulatory process. One is in the regulatory process. But they will all be required to undertake a cumulative effects review, including with participation from the Tahltan central government, in a regulatory capacity moving forward."
Goehring also spoke on the BC Alaska Technical Working Group and its most recent study on water quality.
"The most recent study found no instances that exceeded Alaska's water quality standards in Alaska's waters. There are elevated element concentrations above water quality and set sediment guidelines or standards. Those are largely attributed to the naturally occurring mineral deposits in the area of study. I mean, this really comes down to water and water quality and it's very important that, we don't, you know, take issue with people voicing their concern or you know, everyone has the right to voice their perspective. And, in fact, one of the areas where there's voiced concern is around cumulative effects," Goehring said.
"And it's, it's important to know that there was a letter that went to Secretary of State Blinken in the last few weeks, and it claimed that B.C.'s environmental assessment process does not set legal requirements or standards for assessing cumulative effects, and that's just not true. In fact, BC is at the forefront of cumulative effects management. Our Environmental Assessment Act does assess cumulative effects. And the federal government, the Government of Canada's Impact Assessment Act, also assesses cumulative effects. And in fact, if you go back earlier, the KSM project, which has its environmental assessment certificate, did assess for adverse cumulative effects. And as a matter of fact, KSM changed their water management approach at their proposed project as a result of feedback from Alaskan regulators and Alaskan tribes during the environmental assessment process."
Goehring will be on the Action Line program, on March 29th, to go more in-depth with his response.