Re Minto mine’s deluge:
I have several comments about James Munson’s article in your paper on August 14th.
The question is: Can we afford a regulatory regime that takes four years to resolve a mining wastewater storage issue resulting in the release of a million cubic metres of tainted water dumped in the Yukon River?
Perhaps the dumping of wastewater into the Yukon River was, as stated, the only alternative left open to us, other than uncontrolled discharge. However, it was certainly not the only alternative available to us over the course of the four years this problem played out.
This release of wastewater only became necessary because of the failure of a mining company and our regulatory regime to deal effectively with a pressing problem in time.
Which leads me to my second question: Can we afford to have the department tasked with promoting mining in the territory (Energy, Mines and Resources), also involved with the regulation of that industry?
How “mining friendly” do we want to become in this post-devolution age.
Capstone Resources states that it “puts the environment first.”
Perhaps it would care to answer these two questions, in light of their experience with the regulatory regime.
I am sure that a company that “puts the environment first” would have preferred to resolve this problem long before it became necessary to discharge into the river and, also, long before it put its mining operation at risk.
The overriding concern in my mind is, since becoming financially responsible for the consequences of mining, we cannot afford to make any mistakes.
This does not mean that there can be no mining, it simply means that we better be really careful about what we allow or don’t allow.
Responsible mining better, indeed, be responsible. The consequences of a wrong decision, or as in the case of Capstone Resources, no timely decision by our regulators, can influence the finances of Yukon taxpayers for decades into the future.
My fear concerning the new water management plan, to be proposed by Capstone Resources, is that the emphasis will be on lowering water-quality discharge standards as opposed to physically fixing the problem.
The effect of this would be to transfer the financial responsibility for water quality from the mining company to the Yukon taxpayer. With the consequences of this, ultimately, being borne by our environment.
I would hope, instead, that this plan would have either a diversion of runoff water away from the minesite, or the current treatment pond is made more robust in order to handle any eventuality, or preferably both of the above.
I hope Capstone Resources proves my fears to be unfounded.