Imperial Metals (TSX:III), whose Mount Polley tailings pond spilled a massive quantity of mining waste on August 4, is being evicted from a B.C. First Nation’s land in the Thompson Okanagan region.
The Vancouver-based mining company, which is conducting a metallurgical survey in the area for its Ruddock Creek zinc-lead project, has received a notice from the Neskonlith band to vacate, The Canadian Press reported.
The band, one of 17 forming the Secwepemc First Nation, cited the Mount Polley tailings pond breach as a reason for refusing to allow mining development that might endanger water purity and salmon habitat on its land near Chase, about 48 kilometres east of Kamloops.
The catastrophic failure of the tailings pond wall at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine near the community of Likely released 10 billion litres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden fine sand, contaminating several lakes, rivers and creeks in the Cariboo region.
At a protest Monday against Imperial Metals in Vancouver, Dawn Morrison of the Secwepemc said that the disaster impacted the northern part of her people’s territory.
She said the Ruddock Creek Mine was being developed without Secwepemc consent and suggested the project threatened the upper Adams River watershed important for sockeye salmon.
“We need to stop them. They’re doing (the mine development) without our permission,” Morrison said. “We still very much assert that we have full title. We have never surrendered or ceded it.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Sierra Club B.C. renewed its call to the provincial government to establish an independent committee of experts to investigate the Mount Polley disaster and quickly assess risks at other mine tailings ponds across the province.
Forest and Climate Campaigner Jens Wieting said in a release that Bill Bennett, B.C.’s minister of energy and mines, “is losing the trust of British Columbians by claiming the Mount Polley catastrophe is not an environmental disaster.”
“We need an honest acknowledgement of the scope and the scale of the environmental disaster and the long term risks and uncertainties,” Wieting said. “Instead we have seen greenwashing and spin to lull British Columbians into a false sense of security.”
“Only an independent in-depth investigation to establish what went wrong at Mount Polley will give us answers and next steps in which we can trust.”