Canadian Mining Journal


That’s not the way I would have done it

Occasionally I find there are too many topics worthy of discussion here because, as you all know, just about everything that happens in the day-to-day business world has an impact on mining.

It doesn’t matter if it’s political, financial, or criminal in nature, there’s always something that somehow ties in with the mining community.

Take politics, for example, it’s probably the number one topic when it comes to making the news, and mining news is no exception.

Regardless of whether it’s on the federal, provincial, municipal, or even county level, it almost goes without saying that politics will somehow creep into the conversation.

It’s human nature to express opinions on how politicians are controlling things by the decisions they make. But, as anyone who creates, or makes decisions know, it’s the easiest thing in the world for others to criticize what someone else has usually spent many stressful hours creating.

In fact, as a ‘creator’ myself, (nobody writes my Editorial, nor the stories where my byline appears) I know just how easy it is for others to say, “That’s not the way I would have done it.” Again, easy to criticise, harder to do, and that’s why when I read articles like the one published recently by The Globe and Mail entitled: Closed mine leaves toxic footprint, a story talking about the closure of the Giant Mine in Yellowknife in 1999, I find comments (17 years later) that poke holes in a decision that was made years ago, disturbing, and of little merit.

First of all, in the Giant Mine case, The Globe and Mail story is based on a study that claims that arsenic and mercury levels found in small lakes surrounding the closed mine site are dangerously high, and that the mine is the source of the contaminants.

While there’s probably no denying that the contamination is linked to industrial emissions from decades ago when gold-bearing ore was heated in a roaster, resulting in tonnes of arsenic-laden dust being sent skyward, and eventually settling in the lakes, but why did it take 17 years for a study by the University of Ottawa, and commented on by NWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to point fingers now, when it was known in 1999 what was going on?

It seems to me that if the Department of Environment and Natural Resources knew about the situation at the mine for so many years, which it presumably did because of records that indicate that about 237,000 tonnes of arsenic-trioxide dust are known to have been produced and captured during roasting operations up until 1999, then why wait until now to be so concerned about the additional 20,000 tonnes that had already escaped, as early as 1958 before capture methods were put in place, to put Giant Mine`s back in the headlines?

What’s done is done, and as far I’m concerned, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should have been all over this issue 17 years ago and not wait until now (with a presumably expensive University of Ottawa report in its hands) to blame the miners for a problem that I’m sure they would have gladly worked with the government to help resolve.

Through creativity, Giant Mine’s Yellowknife mine could have served as a perfect examples for showing corporate social responsibility instead of being the target as the source of “That’s not the way I would have done it” comments.

Print this page

Related Posts

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *