Canadian Mining Journal


COMMENT: Opposition heats up against KSM development

Opposition is heating up against the KSM gold-copper mine proposed by Seabridge Gold of Toronto. Today a coalition of Rivers Without Borders, Earthworks, and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council issued a news release calling the risks of...

Opposition is heating up against the KSM gold-copper mine proposed by Seabridge Gold of Toronto. Today a coalition of Rivers Without Borders, Earthworks, and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council issued a news release calling the risks of development “unprecedented.” The site is 65 km northwest of Stewart, BC, on the Alaska-British Columbia border.

The coalition has outlined five key risks of the project. Their members allege:

  • Seabridge is using unrealistic metals prices, despite the fact that PriceWaterhouseCoopers is predicting low metals price for the long term;
  • The tailings containment will rely on the same technology used at the Mount Polley mine where the dam was breached in 2014;
  • The sulphide nature of the ore will mean that mine and surface drainage will have to be treated at high cost after closure, presumably forever;
  • Uncertainty remains concerning aboriginal land claims and ownership by a third party of the route proposed for the tunnel linking the mine with the mineral processing facilities; and
  • Political opposition to the KSM mine is increasing, to wit, the International Joint Commission is calling for bilateral discussions and the Alaska governor is concerned about transboundary effects of development.

The Seabridge Gold’s KSM Project Risk Analysis was authored by Rivers Without Borders and Salmon Without Borders. The opinion within the report were based on the KSM pre-feasibility study. It is a public document, and anyone is entitled to read it.

The question then is: How qualified was the person(s) who read the pre-feasibility study and made these observations?

Undoubtedly, anyone with some background in engineering could make these observations. But without specific expertise in mining and exploration, does the person know anything about the timing of getting a property from discovery to production? A person needs an understanding of long lead times to have perspective on the timing of the project. Seabridge has received environmental approval from the Canadian government for the KSM project, but it could still be five to 10 years before it produces a single pound of copper or ounce of gold.

If start-up of the project is that far into the future, a lot can change. Metal prices can rise, technology can reduce water use and treatment, additional safeguards can be engineered into the tailings management facility, and land access and use can be settled.

I understand that the opposition to the mine wants to be heard, and its timing is spectacular coming a week before Seabridge’s annual general meeting on June 24. I am confident that the management of Seabridge is hearing them and addressing their concerns.

Just let me say once more that a lot can happen to de-risk the KSM project in the time it takes to get it going. All stakeholders must engage with respect if the KSM project is to be de-risked and move forward in a mutually acceptable manner.

I have faith that the Seabridge team can do exactly that. 

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2 Comments » for COMMENT: Opposition heats up against KSM development
  1. Terry Williams says:

    Your commentary to the risks outlined is well said. Fundamentally there is always as small group of NIMBY voices to be heard, and what is most frustrating, is that even if all their fears where addressed, they still would not want any development anywhere near anything.
    I am a Canadian living in Los Angeles, but as a small child I lived in a construction camp in Kemano B.C.,during the initial development of a power plant to feed energy to a new Aluminum facility in Kitimat BC.The proximity was near KSM,so I understand the appreciation for the natural beauty of the area, but even with reasonable development of the resources, the area will be far from being called an industrial wasteland. The steps needed and protections required today far exceed how it was done in the past. But, fear can be irrational too, and these people still have a voice to be heard.

  2. Pro Seabridge says:

    To address the concerns of the opposer. Seabridge’s KSM project is fully approved and has received their environmental assessment from both the Provincial & Federal governments. KSM is the only 2nd large scale mining project in Canada to receive federal approval in the last 5 years. The project economics have reserve grades similar to mines operated profitably by major producers at today’s metal prices for instance Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia operated by Rio Tinto 1,021 M Tonnes at 0.44% Cu and 0.29 Au GPT. The KSM deposit is not near any settlements which would be disturbed by mining and lastly Seabridge has Community Support and a Benefits Agreement signed by the Nisga’s First Nations and has public expressions of support from two other First Nations. For more information and real time discussion on Seabridge, come to the Seabridge room at http://www.Chat.Ceo.Ca/SEA

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