For Immediate Release
Jan 13, 2010

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Gold rush threatens Sacred Headwaters in Northern BC


Sierra Legal Defence Fund today announced that, on behalf of MiningWatch Canada, it has launched a lawsuit challenging a federal government approval of the Red Chris Mine proposed in northern British Columbia.

The groups filed a judicial review application in Federal Court to overturn an environmental assessment by Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) of the large open-pit copper-gold mine. Sierra Legal has asked the Court to prohibit the federal government from issuing any permits for the proposed mine.

The groups argue that the federal environmental assessment of the Red Chris Mine violates the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, because DFO and NRCan did not allow the public to participate in the assessment. Public participation is mandatory for proposed metal mines with an ore production capacity higher than 3,000 tonnes/day. Astoundingly, the Red Chris Mine has an ore production rate of 30,000 tonnes/day.

“This is a golden opportunity for the Court to rule on Parliament’s recent amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which require federal agencies to consult the public on large mine proposals,” said Sierra Legal Staff Lawyer Lara Tessaro.

Rather than adopt cleaner waste storage solutions, bcMetals Corporation wants to turn creek headwaters into a tailings waste dump, destroying fish habitat and risking contamination of the watershed. Yet DFO and NRCan did not allow the public to give input on alternatives to dumping waste in these waters – called the Sacred Headwaters by the Iskut and Tahltan First Nations.

“The federal government has shown an appalling disregard for public input. Not only have federal agencies denied ordinary citizens participation rights, but it has also failed to consult and accommodate local First Nations, whose traditional hunting and fishing grounds will be destroyed by this mine,” said Joan Kuyek, National Co-ordinator of MiningWatch.