Canadian Agency Dismisses SEACC's Complaints About KSM Permitting Process
By MARY KAUFFMAN
November 27, 2017
(SitNews) - Canada’s National Contact Point (“NCP”) has concluded that a complaint it received from the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council on December 23, 2016, regarding aspects of the environmental assessment review process for Seabridge Gold Inc.’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) Project did not merit further examination and its file has now been closed after only the initial assessment level of review.
The National Contact Point issued its statement in response to allegations made by the Juneau-based Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), a Non-Governmental Organization, that Seabridge violated the Guidelines by failing to disclose project documents and engage appropriately with stakeholders in Alaska and that the Company had not exercised sufficient due diligence regarding potential environmental and human rights impacts of the KSM Project. Seabridge received provincial and federal approvals for its KSM Project in northwestern British Columbia in 2014.
Seabridge Chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk stated: “We are pleased that the thoroughness of the federal and provincial joint environmental assessment review process for KSM has been acknowledged and that this complaint has been dismissed. I want to thank the Canada’s National Contact Point for its detailed investigation and reiterate that Seabridge remains committed to continuing engagement with the people of northwestern BC and southeastern Alaska, including Treaty and First Nations, as the KSM Project moves toward development.”
The KSM property is located in the Iskut-Stikine River region, approximately 65 km northwest of Stewart, British Columbia.
Map courtesy Seabridge Gold
The National Contact Point found that the KSM Project was subject to a rigorous and detailed environmental assessment process by both the federal and provincial governments. In its statement, the NCP reports that in its investigation into the complaint, which commenced in January of 2017, it discovered:
National Contact Point's Recommendations:
- Seabridge had disclosed all of its relevant studies and plans related to the environment;
- federal and provincial environmental assessment agencies conducted public consultations;
- evidence that Seabridge had also engaged with Alaskans at multiple points during the environmental assessment process despite no legal requirement to do so;
- the federal and provincial environmental assessment review processes included examination of all potential negative impacts and identification of mitigation measures where needed;
- evidence that the concerns of stakeholders had been integrated into the environmental assessment process and ultimately had led to important changes in KSM Project design.
- The NCP recommended that Seabridge and SEACC meet and discuss in good faith, independently of the NCP process, with the goal of resolving any misunderstanding and outstanding concerns.
- The NCP recommended that Seabridge continue to consult stakeholders, including Alaskan stakeholders, in the development and implementation of follow-up and monitoring programs described in the Government of Canada’s Comprehensive Study Report, British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Certificate, and in federal and provincial permits and authorizations that may be sought.
- The NCP recommended that Seabridge officially and publicly endorse the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as part of its corporate social responsibility policy framework, and implement them throughout its various activities and operations.
- The NCP recommended that Seabridge endorse and implement the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector.
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's Request for NCP Review made allegations regarding Seabridge’s actions related to disclosure, engagement of stakeholders and due diligence with respect to environment and human rights, as summarized below:
- Regarding disclosure: that Seabridge failed to fully disclose its plans to avoid, mitigate or prevent all environmental concerns identified by SEACC, inter alia.
- Regarding engagement of stakeholders: that the Company did not provide for open, meaningful and timely engagement with SEACC and did not take meaningful account of issues and concerns raised by SEACC and other Alaskan stakeholders, inter alia.
- Regarding due diligence on environment and human rights: that Seabridge failed to consider or plan mitigation for the following, inter alia: environmental concerns and expected negative impacts of several contaminants on water and downstream fisheries; acidic conditions; recommendations of the Mt Polley investigation; impact on and loss of vital fish habitat; cumulative impacts; financial plans for the water treatment required over a 250 year period; avoid causing adverse impacts on human rights to clean water, healthy resources, and traditional and subsistence fisheries.
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council wanted a total of 15 specific remedies from the Seabridge (2 related to disclosure, 5 for stakeholder engagement, and 8 related to due diligence). Some of the remedies sought are highlighted below:
- Timely, accurate and full disclosure of steps taken to avoid and mitigate environmental harm;
- Steps to be taken to identify and disclose liability mechanisms for reparation of environmental damage;
- Full and timely consideration of concerns raised by stakeholders;
- Signed commitment to implement the OECD Guidelines and changes into company policies;
- Dispute resolution and damage payment mechanisms for downstream Alaskan interests;
- Adequate consideration and due diligence of the foreseeable environmental impacts;
- Adaptive management plan for downstream impacts; and,
- Creation of a funding source for environmental monitoring and remediation;
- Commitment to halt further development of the mine or related infrastructure until after meaningful engagement of stakeholders has occurred.
As stated above, the National Contact Point decided not to offer a facilitated dialogue or mediation to the parties and to close the specific instance.
Seabridge Gold Inc's Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) project is an active mine exploration project 65 km northwest of Stewart, British Columbia. The KSM Project is one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world measured by reserves. An updated Preliminary Feasibility Study estimates proven and probable reserves total 38.8 million ounces of gold and 10.2 billion pounds of copper.
Canada’s National Contact Point operates within the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and promotes adherence to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s non-binding Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
On the Web:
Canada’s National Contact Point’s Final Statement - Seabridge Gold and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council
Source of News:
Seabridge Gold Inc (TSX: SEA)(NYSE:SA)
Canada’s National Contact Point
Canada's NCP is an interdepartmental committee chaired by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The role of the NCP is to promote awareness of the OECD Guidelines for MNEs (updated in 2011) as they relate to the social, economic and environmental impacts of their activities on the societies in which they work.
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