Teck, Taku River Tlingit First Nation, BC partner on Tulsequah Chief mine remediation

The province of British Columbia, Teck Resources (TSX: TECK:B) and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) have agreed to jointly advance […]
River in Atlin, BC, near the Tulsequah mine. Stock image.

The province of British Columbia, Teck Resources (TSX: TECK:B) and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) have agreed to jointly advance remediation of the former Tulsequah Chief mine site. 

Five years after the Ministry of Energy and Mines first ordered a now-bankrupt junior mining company to clean up an acid rock drainage problem at the Tulsequah mine near Atlin, BC, the provincial government began taking the initial steps to remediate the defunct mine. 

A report prepared for the ministry in 2020 estimated the capital cost of closing the mine and the reclamation work at C$48 million (about $36m). The cost of annual monitoring and maintenance is estimated at C$27 million ($20m) 

The Tulsequah Chief mine site, located within TRTFN territory approximately 100 km southwest of Atlin, is a historic underground copper, lead and zinc mine, which was operated from 1951-57 by Cominco, a predecessor company to Teck, and is currently owned by Chieftain Metals Inc. 

The leadership of the TRTFN has been saying since 2018 that the Tulsequah Chief mine needs remediation to prevent further degradation of the Tulsequah River.  

Work at the mine was suspended since the Toronto-based Chieftain Metals filed for receivership in 2016, over C$27 million in debt.  

“The Taku River Tlingit First Nation is committed to ensuring the Tulsequah Chief Mine is remediated and restored to natural conditions, according to Tlingit values and cultural principles of environmental stewardship,” Charmaine Thom, spokesperson for Taku River Tlingit First Nation, said in a news release. 

 “The co-operative partnership between the Government of British Columbia, Teck, and TRTFN reinforces the collective commitment to clean abandoned mines to an acceptable condition that meets the standard of both governments, this is an important step toward reconciliation,” Thom said.  

Under this approach, Teck will voluntarily undertake and fund site investigation work in 2024-25. Teck will also lead implementation of the final closure plan. The 2024-25 work will include establishing safe site access, assessing underground mine conditions, monitoring water quality and flow, and evaluating waste rock disposal sites.  

This work will inform the final Tulsequah Reclamation and Closure Plan, which is being co-developed by Teck and the TRTFN, guided by the TRTFN's vision for their future use of the restored site. 

“We look forward to continue working co-operatively with the Province and Taku River Tlingit First Nation to advance remediation of the Tulsequah Chief Mine site,” Teck’s vice-president environment Scott Maloney said in the release.   

“While Teck has not been the owner of Tulsequah for some time, we recognize the importance of all parties working together to progress remediation of this historic site, in support of reconciliation and sustainability, and as a reflection of the best practices of today’s modern, responsible mining sector in BC,” Maloney said.  

The province said it will work with Teck and the TRTFN to enable the efficient implementation of this approach under B.C.'s regulatory framework. This work, the Ministry said, will help to protect the Tulsequah River, enable the land to be restored as quickly as possible for the TRTFN's beneficial use and ensure TRTFN rights and laws are incorporated into reclamation planning at Tulsequah. 

“We are committed to ensuring the Tulsequah Chief Mine site is cleaned up in accordance with the province’s high environmental standards,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.  


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