In collaboration with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN), the Province has committed to spending up to $1.575 million for site preparation and studies to support early reclamation work at the Tulsequah Chief Mine site.
The work will begin to address longstanding concerns about the mine, primarily related to water discharge.
The mine operated from 1951 to 1957. It is located next to the Tulsequah River in northern British Columbia, within the territory of the TRTFN.
“The environmental issues at the Tulsequah Chief Mine site have gone on for too long,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “But after working in partnership with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and the government of Alaska, I am pleased to see we now have a plan in place and can get to work on reclaiming the site.”
For more than a year, the Province and the TRTFN have been working together to support the development of a conceptual closure and reclamation plan for the Tulsequah Chief Mine. This funding will allow for a number of critical activities to take place this summer.
Some of the first steps include replacing and repairing bridges, upgrading the access road, establishing an erosion protection berm and repairing the existing airstrip. This work is required to prepare the site in order to address environmental, health and safety issues and undertake the long-term remediation.
“One of the benefits of the work on the reclamation plan is safeguarding the salmon, and the joint effort with the Province has been key to reaching this stage of a plan,” said John Ward, spokesperson for the TRTFN. “An integral part of the approach of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation is a responsible approach to industrial development. Future mining in the Taku River Tlingit First Nation territory is supported if it’s a responsible and sustainable approach that’s brought to the development.”
The Province and TRTFN will work together to contract a light detection and ranging sensor survey. The survey will get topographic information that is detailed enough to support further design work. It will also initiate a multi-year aquatics monitoring program and assess the potential short-term use of the interim water treatment plant. Data provided by these efforts will be crucial to filling information gaps and determining next steps at the site, including remedial timelines.
“Taking action now is critical in order to begin to address the impacts of the former Tulsequah Chief Mine,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Over the past year, we have been working closely with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and the government of Alaska to identify the right actions to properly remediate and close the site. This work will also create jobs, build capacity in the community and strengthen partnerships to manage the health of our shared waterways.”
The closure and reclamation plan outlines a phased approach that involves a series of steps designed to reduce the ongoing contamination. It is designed to be flexible, so changes can be made once more information is gathered from the site.
The site remains in receivership under a court-appointed receiver. The Government of B.C. remains active in the receivership process that is currently taking place in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The Province is committed to ongoing collaboration with the TRTFN and engagement with the State of Alaska in these efforts, while also fostering a well-regulated, sustainable and word-class mining industry that provides opportunities for all British Columbians.
The Tulsequah Chief Mine Closure and Reclamation Plan is available on the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources’ website:
More information about Tulsequah Chief Mine is available here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/site-permitting-compliance/tulsequah-mine