Plans are moving along for halting acid drainage in a transboundary mine between British Columbia and Alaska, but it’s a slow process that could take years to complete.
A spokesperson for BC’s ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources confirmed this week that any work to address contamination and reclamation of the Tulsequah Chief mine, which has been discharging untreated acid mine drainage into the Tulsequah River at least since 1957, will be part of a multi-year process. The province recently completed a conceptual Closure and Reclamation Plan. Given current data gaps, the plan estimates a phased approach over at least a five-year time span, the spokesperson said. The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN), Teck Resources and the Department of Natural Resources in Alaska were involved in the joint review and development of remedial options to inform the plan.
This past summer the Province committed $1.575 million to complete early physical work and additional studies necessary to support that plan. The Province worked with TRTFN and the Atlin Taku Economic Limited Partnership (ATELP), the economic development arm of the TRTFN, to mobilize contractors to the site to undertake this work. As of October, work onsite ended for the season. A functional camp was established on site and roads were cleared and repaired. Partial bridge repairs were done, but larger bridges and the airstrip require further engineering work prior to repairs, the spokesperson said.
Two contracts are ongoing: SLR Consulting is conducting an aquatic monitoring program with support from subcontracted TFTFN members and ARK Consulting is assessing the establishment of an interim water treatment plant.
The Province was an active participant in Ontario Superior Court proceedings, which discharged the receiver over Chieftain Metals Inc. and Chieftain Metals Corp., but also granted Chieftain’s secured creditor, West Face Capital Inc. the right to seek reappointment of the receiver on or before Aug. 11, 2022, to provide West Face Capital additional time to seek a purchaser for Chieftain’s assets in the mine.
The spokesperson also said that the Province intends to hold previous owners and operators accountable for site remediation, including Chieftain.