Common Sense Canadian

Tahltan renew pressure on Imperial Metals’ Red Chris Mine in wake of Mount Polley

PostedAugust 9, 2014 by in Western Canada
Tahltan renew pressure on Imperial Metals' Red Chris Mine in wake of Mount Polley

Tahltan and supporters peacefully occupying a Fortune Minerals drill in the Sacred Headwaters last year

Read this August 8 story from the Terrace Standard on the renewed pressure for members of the Tahltan First Nations on Red Chris Mine, a project being developed in northwest BC by Mount Polley Mine owner Imperial Metals. The mine is close to opening but still lacks critical permits in the sensitive area of tailings pond design – a source of increased concern in the wake of the company’s recent tailings pond breach.

A group of Tahltan elders have set up a blockade of Imperial Metals’ Red Chris Mine.

The action by the Klabona Keepers is in response to the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach that leaked mining waste into Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. Aug. 5, resulting in a drinking water ban and state of emergency in that area.

Imperial Metals owns the Mount Polley Mine. The company’s Red Chris Mine, a gold-copper mine in development and slated to open this year, is located about 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake on Tahltan territory.

“In response to the Mount Polley Mine tailings disaster and our serious concerns over the pending Imperial Metals’ Red Chris Mine, the Klabona Keepers from the Tahltan Nation will blockade the Red Chris property Friday Aug 8, 2014 at 1 p.m. Pacific time,” said the release put out by the Klabona Keepers in the morning of Aug. 8.

Testing in Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake have shown initial results that indicate the water is safe to drink but the water-use ban remains in effect because Polley Lake has not been tested yet and more testing is needed.

The Klabona Keepers, members of the Iskut band, have a history of blockades in the Klappan area commonly known as the Sacred Headwaters dating back to 2005.

Meanwhile, Tahltan Central Council president Chad Day issued a statement on the council’s website earlier this week saying the band has “new questions and concerns that we must discuss with Imperial Metals about the tailings ponds at Red Chris.”

The Red Chris Mine does not have all of the necessary permits to operate, read the statement, and the council and company have been in the process of negotiating an impact benefit agreement.


Video of last year’s standoff between Tahltan First Nations members and Fortune Minerals over a proposed coal min in the Sacred Headwaters. The Tahltan have a long history of successfully stalling and shutting down unwanted development in their territory.


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    scotty on denman

    Elsewhere is reported that Imperial Metals may not have enough insurance to cover the cost of clean-up–it has about $15 million in potential benefits, which falls far short, probably by an order of magnitude, of what is required. Minister Pollack reassures that the company has lots of money and other assets; true, but it gets about 83% of its cash flow from Mount Polley Mine; if it can’t stem the breach and get back to selling concentrate, it may indeed fold, leaving BC taxpayers stuck with the clean-up tab…again.

    But guess who’s insured for “loses”! Shareholders are insured against stock-value losses which have certainly happened (Imperial Metals stock lost about half its trading value following the disaster). This is wrong. Shareholders, who profit by their company’s successes, should also be liable for its failures, and Mount Polley, make no mistake, constitutes a disaster.

    This is the problem: mining plays are incredibly huge on up-front costs before production can produce profits. Demanding performance bonds as insurance against potential clean-up costs is particularly onerous for developers and investors. Short of that, licensing agreements would have to include ongoing contributions to a clean-up fund that would come out of operating profits, accepting higher risk when a tailings pond is initially small, and approach levels adequate to full clean-up contingency as the pond grows in size. It would of course be up to the company to mitigate this funding cost by ensuring ponds are solidly made and perhaps by recovering more of these toxic metals before they’re added to the tailings stream, the vast majority of which is harmless silts and sand. Obviously, steady and close invigilation is paramount to such an arrangement.

      Linden Jack

      If Red Chris is blocked for good. Then yeah Imperial might go bankrupt.

      But if this stupid blockade ends, Red Chris can finish up, start production, and Imperial can pay for the disaster.

      How many dam breaches have happened in Canada? TWO. They are not common and I am sure Imperial Metals will make sure it never happens to them again.

      The TCC doesn’t agree with the roadblock. The roadblock is primarily made up of individuals who obviously aren’t working. Reason? they probably got fired for drinking/drugs at a dry site.


        Sooo stupid! Starting a new mine and putting at risk the Sacred Headwaters, to pay off the cost of the disaster of Mount Polley.
        And whats next, starting another mine the day we have a disaster here in the north?

          Damien Gillis

          In fairness, Bearfriends, this proposal has been on the books a long time. That said, the lingering questions about its tailings pond design are highly pertinent now (they have yet to secure permits for the pond component of the mine – pretty much everything else is ready to go), given this disaster at Mount Polley under the same company’s watch. I think it’s more than fair to give Red Chris another close examination in light of these events.

      Laurie Watt

      Shareholders are not insured against stock-value losses, Scotty.

    Jacqueline Steffen

    Way to go Tahltan First Nations!!!! We applaud you for setting up a blockade at the Red Chris Mine. Many citizens in BC are shocked and angered by the cavalier attitude of the CEO and how they have downplayed the extensive damage done. This is a catastrophe of enormous proportions. This disaster will completely wipe out the wildlife, salmon, fishing, tourism as well as the drinking water for these communities for many years to come! The government and Imperial Metals should both be charged and held responsible for this entire mess!!!


      Unfortunately , until corporate liablity laws are changed.
      Imperial Mines can, and probably will, declare bankruptcy, and walk away from this entire fiscal, environmental disaster. Leaving the taxpayers and First Nations to deal with the mess.
      The owner, managers, shareholders may lose money and their jobs but…..

      No one will go to jail. No one.

      Until laws change this type of bs will go on and on and on……….

      Canadian Mining operations have a pretty crappy reputation worlwide for coming into an area, digging massive holes, building tailings ponds and eventually abandoning the projects about 2 minutes after the profits drop into the red.
      Africa, South America, Eastern europe, and the US have all had to deal with Canadian mining “expertice” .
      “Cut and run” seems to be the order of the day when it comes to dealing with the aftermath….
      Oh Canada.

      Harry Hooks

      Really, way to go? What about the 400 employees of Red Chris Mine and the other 1000+ at other Imperial mines who are trying to feed their families. Half the employees at Red Chris are Tahltan. The people who have set up the blockade are a rogue group of 30 or so Tahltan who aren’t supported by the Tahltan Counsel. Imperial Metals has also done alot for the communities of the Tahltan people, and they are also paying for the power line that will be powering their communities which still run off diesel generators. British Columbia needs Red Chris Mine…

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