TERRACE, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 11, 2014) - A report released today shows the Kerr Sulphurets Mitchell (KSM) mine proposed by Seabridge Gold Inc. would release metals into the Unuk watershed that would exceed levels known to have serious impacts on salmon.
SkeenaWild Conservation Trust undertook an extensive review of existing scientific studies and compared the results to the metal contaminants Seabridge Gold Inc. proposes to release into the Unuk watershed. "Salmon and trout exposed to these concentrations have shown habitat avoidance, impaired olfaction (smell), migratory disruption, impaired anti-predator response, reduced growth and swim speed, increased stress, impaired reproduction, and death" stated Michael Price, Salmon Ecologist, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.
The Unuk is a large salmon-producing river that flows from British Columbia into Misty Fiords National Monument in Alaska, supporting all five species of pacific salmon including the largest run of King (Chinook) salmon in the Southern part of the state. "These salmon are important to Alaskan commercial, recreational, and food fisheries, and it is important that Alaskans are aware of the potential impacts," stated Greg Knox, Executive Director, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.
KSM would be one of the largest and deepest open pit gold mines in the world, and would have to treat and release contaminants into the Unuk and Nass watersheds for at least 200 years, possibly thousands.
Another concern is the lack of requirement for the developer to put up the $5.4 billion it estimates in water treatment costs over the 200 year time period. "Without a bond for the entire amount, British Columbians and Alaskans could be on the hook for cleanup costs and impacts if the company files for bankruptcy or dissolves at some point over the next several hundred years," said Greg Knox.
Concern has also been raised by the Gitanyow First Nation in British Columbia. The Gitanyow have provided scientific evidence of similar impacts to salmon in the Nass watershed (Canada's 3rd largest salmon producing system), and are concerned about any potential impacts to First Nations food security and communities down stream in British Columbia.
KSM is currently undergoing a combined Canadian and British Columbia environmental assessment. The EA process is expected to be complete this spring, shortly after which a decision will be made whether or not to approve the project.
For more information please view the following video and read the report:
To provide comments to the BC and Canada environmental assessment processes:
For information on SkeenaWild Conservation Trust: