Mining Concerns

goldminingvideo.jpgDDV Gold (a subsidiary of Atlantic Gold NL, an Australian company) plans to start an open pit mine at Moose River Gold Mines in 2014.  This type of mining has extreme impacts on the landscape as you can see in this video.

To learn more, read on.....

The Proposed Open Pit Gold Mine at Moose River

The Fish River watershed downstream from the proposed mine

The mine’s operation will have a multitude of impacts on the environment and the people living in Eastern HRM

OUR AIR and WATER: The mine will release cyanide gas and acid-rain compounds along with dust.  Acid rain is well-known to reduce productivity of forests, and to affect the survival of fish.  Acid rain is a major threat for the rare Boreal Felt lichen, a federally-listed endangered species which lives in the vicinity of the mine site.  The mine effluent may not meet water quality guidelines, but even if it does, some contaminants - mercury, arsenic, lead, cyanate - and nutrients in the form of nitrates will be constantly released into the Fish River (see red stream in map above). These contaminants will make their way into our streams, lakes and ground water, even our well water.

OUR HEALTH: Some toxins will be concentrated in the meat of game birds and animals, and eaten by unsuspecting residents.  Water from mine effluent has the potential of contaminating wells in several communities.  Dust carried downwind may affect residents with lung conditions, as well as our many elderly residents.  Some of the jobs available to Eastern HRM workers will involve hazardous materials and hazardous working conditions.    

OUR FISHING: Nutrients (nitrates from cyanide decomposition) cause algal blooms which in turn kill fish.  Other contaminants from mining operations are known to affect fish health and reproduction.  Accumulation of heavy metals in their tissues makes fish unfit for human consumption.

OUR HUNTING: Small mammals, frogs and birds cannot be prevented from getting in contact with contaminated tailing and polishing ponds on the mine site, which will in turn contaminate the food chain through predators.  Ducks dive and dabble in bottom mud which will be laden with toxic metals at the bottom of the polishing pond. 

OUR WILDLIFE: Besides eliminating a significant area of habitat, the noise generated by the mine (blasting, traffic, crushers) will disturb fish and other wildlife, particularly the endangered mainland moose, which lives in the area.

OUR WILDERNESS RECREATION: The Eastern Shore is valued for its pristine wilderness for outdoors recreation. The newly-designated Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area lies immediately adjacent to the mine site to the south and east.  The mine will degrade the wilderness values so recently celebrated by both government and local residents.  In addition,  campers at nearby Camp Kidston, run by the United Church of Canada, will be constantly disturbed by construction and blasting noise,  as well as dust in the air.  Because the tailings impoundment facility will not be lined, it is possible that seepage of mine effluent into ground water could affect the camp's water supply.

OUR JOBS and BUSINESSES: The mine operation promises short-term jobs which will be offset by the loss of longer-term jobs in the conventional tourism and eco-tourism industries.  Enterprises dependent on clean water, eg. shellfish production, lobster pounds, will be threatened. 

OUR PEOPLE: Eastern Shore residents have for many years repeatedly rejected the development of heavy polluting industries, and residents have raised strong objections to this project with the provincial government.  In addition, there has been no consultation with First Nations about their interests and concerns in the lands that would be affected by the project.

OUR CLIMATE: The mine will be using large amounts of energy and will be a significant producer of CO2.  This venture clearly violates the intention of Nova Scotia's Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, and ignores its social responsibility to address the effects of global warming.

OUR FUTURE:  It is the company's stated intention to develop a gold mining industry in Nova Scotia.  This would mean that the impacts on human and environmental health would multiply and that the toxicity associated with gold mining would affect an increasing amount of Nova Scotia's land mass and waterways.  Without a thorough public debate, this is unacceptable.

We request that Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada play a key role in determining the merits of this project, within a federal Environmental Assessment process.

We request that an independent, impartial expert conduct a cost-benefit analysis, with the results made public, before the government takes any action to approve the proposed gold mine at Moose River.

Los Frailes gold mine, Spain: tailings dam break, 1998

Accidents happen

SPILL OF CYANIDE DURING TRANSPORT: More than 12 tons of cyanide a week will be transported over rugged country roads in all weathers through populated areas and along waterways.  A few kg of cyanide spilled in a river will wipe out all life in its path downstream.  The fatal human dose of cyanide is about a teaspoon of 2% cyanide solution. 

ACCIDENTAL RELEASE OF CONTAMINANTS FROM THE MINE: A failure of the water treatment process, or a spill of untreated mine effluent occurring between planned tests will have disastrous consequences for the water downstream, even before the spill is detected.  Once released, the contamination's progress downstream cannot be stopped.

: The dam is planned to be built up to 20 m high during the life of the mine, and will have to retain millions of tons of tailings.  A dam failure - and there are many recent disastrous examples in the world -  will be  catastrophic.  All the problems outlined previously would become acute rather than chronic.  Any royalties, taxes and bonds collected by the NS government from the operation of the mine would not even approach the cost of cleaning up the damage.

:  Hurricane Juan in 2003 and post-tropical storm Noel in November 2007 demonstrate the enormous and unpredictable power of natural forces.  A prolonged power outage would disrupt all mining operations, including those addressing environmental safety, with unpredictable consequences.

:  Because much of the financing will come from selling the gold forward, while it is still in the ground, an accident which causes the mine to close would also vaporize the company's line of credit.  If the company goes bankrupt, taxpayers will be stuck with catastrophic clean-up costs which can reach many millions of dollars.

We request
that the government utilize the precautionary principle: when an action risks causing severe harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who advocate the action. Simply stated, don't play with matches, don't run with scissors.   In two environmental assessments the company has not adequately made the case that this project is safe.  The well-documented potential for damage to human and environmental health from this project, as well as the financial risk, outweighs any possible short-term economic benefit.

Open Pit Mine, Kittila, Finland

Legacy of the Proposed Moose River Gold Mine

• The open pit - an enormous hole in sterile rock, not a living lake, unable to sustain very much life for years to come.
• A 15 storey-high pile of waste rock, 20 million tons, will not be support native vegetation for decades.
• Native vegetation will recover very slowly on the site, despite replanting. The area will be a derelict industrial site, a devastated wasteland for years or decades.
• Concentrated toxic material from the polishing pond will be buried within the abandoned tailings pond, and will constitute a chemical time-bomb, vulnerable to ground water seepage and future inadvertent disturbances.

• Monitoring and treatment of the mine effluent after decommissioning will be needed for decades, as is the case for the Rio Algom mine in southwest Nova Scotia, or quite possibly forever.
• Rain and snow water seeping through tailings will continue leaching contaminants and carrying them into surface and ground water through paths often difficult to predict, and therefore difficult to monitor.
• The costly legacy of gold mining is the focus of research done by the Commission on Historical Gold mining, which has been dealing with heath hazards related to past gold mining in Nova Scotia. For example, clams in Seal Harbour were found to contain 1000 times the allowable limit for arsenic in food. Clam digging there is now prohibited.

We request
that a joint Federal/Provincial Environmental Assessment examine the gold mine application before this venture is approved, before the Eastern Shore becomes a toxic mine tailings dump.

We request
an immediate full public debate to inform Nova Scotians of the issues involved in hard-rock mining.

Website updated 16 September 2016
EasternShore Forest Watch Association:  info@forestwatch.ca
General Delivery, Head of Jeddore, Nova Scotia, B0J 1P0, Canada