SEITC Says Proposed Canadian Open-pit Gold Mine in the Unuk River Watershed Threat to Southeast Alaska; Comments due Feb. 16th
Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations Announce Partnership To Maximize Economic Benefits of "golden triangle"
February 15, 2023
The recent completion of the high-voltage Northwest Transmission Line, constructed to facilitate major mining projects, is further accelerating the rapid development and dozens of mining projects currently exist in the transboundary watersheds.
Skeena is proposing to resume operations at the underground Eskay Creek mine as an open-pit gold-silver mine. The mine, re-branded as the Eskay Creek Revitalization Project, lies in the Unuk River watershed, 77 miles south of Iskut, B.C.
The mine plan includes two open pits, the dumping of mining waste into natural lakes expanding behind tailings dams and calls for structures that will have to be maintained into perpetuity - a time frame within which complete failure is guaranteed to occur.
"The tailings have to remain underwater forever so as not to go acid. Skeena has no plan to treat the water leaving the tailing lakes. The levels of lake water will have to be maintained, neither going dry nor overtopping the dam, forever.", states Guy Archibald, scientist and executive director of Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), which represents 15 Tribal Nations that calls on the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia to work jointly with U.S Tribes to consider the transboundary impacts of mining operations.
SEITC president and 2nd vice president of Tlingit & Haida’s Executive Council, Rob Sanderson, Jr says British Columbia has buried them in the process. “The engagement from B.C. has been insufficient and ignores our Section 35 rights in Canada. We rely on the healthy waters of the Unuk river for our thousands of years-old cultural and subsistence practices.”
Canada and B.C. have enacted legislation that incorporates the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights into domestic law. If a project affects the territories or resources of Indigenous peoples, the Crown is required to obtain their free, prior and informed consent.
The environmental assessment for the Eskay Creek mine largely focuses on the project in isolation, and consultation is taking place in closed meetings with only the Tahltan nation represented.
The Environmental Assessment Decision is in progress for the Eskay Creek Revitalization Project and the public is invited to participate in the public comment period. Comments are due Feb 16 and can be submitted online at British Columbia Environmental Assessment website or by mail to the EAO, PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC, V8W 9V1.
Regarding the mention by Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission of the closed meetings with the Tahitan nation, last month the Tahltan Nation and Nisga'a Nation (the “Nations”) joined together in a new partnership to maximize economic benefits at the Seabridge KSM Project. Quoting a news release from the "Nations", this partnership will bring new life to a historic and centuries-old Peace Treaty, through the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership. The new partnership will optimize their participation at the Seabridge KSM project, further establishing the Nations as industry leaders in mining and exploration. This historic partnership was announced at AME Roundup in Vancouver, a conference hosted by the Association for Minerals Exploration.
The partnership between the Tahltan Nation and Nisga'a Nation has been established through their respective development corporations, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation and Nisga’a Growth Corporation. Both Nations will be equal partners in the newly established Treaty Creek Limited Partnership (the “Partnership”). Through the Partnership, there will be new opportunities for Nation members through training, employment, and contraction with KSM.
The Tahltan Nation and Nisga’a Nation stated in a news release they have a long-standing, historical relationship that dates back centuries, including putting their differences aside and coming to a mutual understanding on the boundaries of their respective traditional territories. This was acknowledged and settled at Treaty Creek in 1898. Further, in 1977 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Terrace, reaffirming the Nations' allegiance to one another. Most recently, the Nations' partnership was further solidified at the Special Assembly of the Nisg?a’a Nation in New Aiyansh in May 2016 and again at Hoobiyee in Ging?olx in 2019.
“On behalf of both the Nisga’a Nation and the Tahltan Nation, I would like to acknowledge Seabridge for their support and encouragement for the creation of our Treaty Creek Limited Partnership, and their willingness to actively engage and work with our Partnership on their KSM project, the world's largest undeveloped gold project,” says Carol Danielson, Chair, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation.
“Today we are bringing life to our long-standing relationship and historical memorandum of understanding by implementing those very provisions of the MOU that are intended to improve the quality of life of our Nisg?a’a and Tahltan people,” said Nisg?a’a Nation President Eva Clayton. “Through our partnership, we are creating a circle of certainty in the Golden Triangle that will attract investors to work with us in our territories.”
“In 2019, the Tahltan Nation had the honour of participating in the Hobiyee Celebration in the Nisga’a Village of Gingolx, where both Nations re-affirmed and committed to implementing the guiding principles of our May 3, 2016, Memorandum of Understanding. Together, we agreed to make our relationship an alliance. That has come to fruition with the creation of the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership, whereby the Nisga’a Nation and Tahltan Nation will combine forces to maximize joint opportunities on the Seabridge KSM Project,” said Chad Norman Day, President of the Tahltan Central Government.
The Nisga’a Nation settled the first modern-day Treaty in British Columbia in May 2000, providing ownership of over 2,000 sq. km of Nisg?a’a Lands in fee simple, constitutionally protected rights to over 26,000 sq. km of Nisg?a’a Traditional Lands (the “Nass Area”), and law-making authority.
The Nisga’a Nation has appointed Chris McNeil and Andrew Robinson as its two Directors to the Partnership.
“There is so much potential to increase capacity with both Nations. Working together can only optimize participation in the industry while ensuring we are providing those capable with the support and tools to ensure they can build sustainable, life-time careers in the industry,” said Andrew Robinson, Director, Treaty Creek Limited Partnership.
Seabridge Gold holds a 100% interest in several North American gold projects. Seabridge's assets include the KSM and Iskut projects located near Stewart, British Columbia. For a full breakdown of Seabridge's mineral reserves and mineral resources by category visit the Company's website at www.seabridgegold.com
Seabridge Gold’s KSM Project is a proposed gold, copper, silver and molybdenum mine with the Environmental Assessment approved mine life of more than 50 years. The Project hosts the largest undeveloped gold resource in the world with measured and indicated gold resources totaling more than 88.3 million ounces. The Project also contains 19.4 billion pounds of copper, 414 million ounces of silver, and 742 million pounds of Molybdenum in the measured and indicated resource categories. Seabridge Gold has spent more than $650 million on the exploration, engineering, development and environmental work to responsibly advance the KSM Project and in 2021 started undertaking early-stage construction to secure ‘Substantially Started’ status by July 2026. According to Seabridge Gold, the KSM Project has the potential to bring jobs and economic benefits to local communities for generations to come. For More information, www.KSMProject.com
Again, the Environmental Assessment Decision is in progress for the Eskay Creek Revitalization Project and the public is invited to participate in the public comment period. Comments are due Feb 16, 2023 and can be submitted online at British Columbia Environmental Assessment website or by mail to the EAO, PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC, V8W 9V1.