Tulsequah Mine in trouble as Canada tribe withdraws support

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Correction: Upon first publication, the headline for the following brief incorrectly identified the Taku River Tlingit First Nation as an "Alaska tribe." We regret the error.

Earlier this month, the Taku River Tlingit First Nations removed its representative from the Chieftain Metal road project's environmental review process. Now the group has withdrawn support for all government approval for the troubled Tulsequah Chief Mine.

According to the Juneau Empire, the Taku Tlingit have stated that they will not support the mine project until Chieftain submits an updated feasibility study and restores operations of its Tulsequah Chief water treatment plant. In an email Chieftain CEO Victor Wyprysky told the Empire that the Taku Tlingit opposition wouldn't impede on the company's effort to develop the mine.

In a press release sent out on Sept. 10, Wyprysky said that Chieftain had received all major permits and was ready to begin construction. However, the company still needs approval for an alternate road route, one that avoids caribou habitat and bypasses a heritage trail on First Nation land, before construction can officially begin. As of Sept. 18 the alternate route amendment has not been approved.

The Tulsequah Chief Mine was shut down in 1957, but the last company to mine the Tulsequah Chief, Cominco, improperly closed the operation. Since then, acidic waters have been leaching into the Tulsequah River, which flows into the Taku River. In Nov. of 2011, Chieftain acquired the plant from Redfern Resources Ltd. and installed a $9 million water treatment plant in order to deal with acid mine drainage contaminating the area.

To read more, visit the Juneau Empire here.