Fools still approve gold mining excesses in Nova Scotia

Abandoned mines in Nova Scotia are considered “low hanging fruit” to the mining companies. As well as being legally entitled now to mine where they want on private lands, mining companies want access to Protected Areas.

If you think our worries about our forests and forestry are all over in the event that we receive a Report from the Independent Review of Forest Practices in Nova Scotia that results in fundamental change in forestry practices in NS, and The Mill agrees to constructing and paying for a totally land-based system for processing mill effluents…think again.

Joan Baxter has done some of that for us on the gold mining front. View:

A Cape Breton Spectator/Halifax Examiner  Special Investigation:

Fool’s Gold: Nova Scotia’s Myopic Pursuit of Metals & Minerals (Part II)
Joan Baxter in the Cape Breton Spectator/Halifax Examiner, May 23, 2018

Part I: Fool’s Gold: Nova Scotia’s Myopic Pursuit of Metals & Minerals (Part I)
Joan Baxter in the Cape Breton Spectator/Halifax Examiner, May 16, 2018.

Some excepts from Part II:

The CEO and chairman of Vancouver-based Atlantic Gold Corporation, Steven Dean, a man with a history of international coal and metal mining, was being interviewed by Andrew Bell of the Business News Network (BNN).i Dean was talking up his company’s first gold mine, named Touquoy after a French miner who worked the deposit in the late 1800s, which had just gone into production in Moose River, Nova Scotia.

The interview was held at an ideal venue for Atlantic Gold to showcase its new open-pit gold mine, the first ever in Nova Scotia: the 2018 convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association (PDAC) of Canada in Toronto, the global mining industry’s “event of choice.”

Bell expressed amazement at the low cost — $550 –- of producing an ounce of gold at the Touquoy mine. Dean told Bell the mine would produce about 90,000 ounces a year which, at current gold prices, would make it a “profitable mine” with about $90 million in “operating cash flow.” And, said Dean, Atlantic Gold planned to enter its second phase of operations by 2022, with more mines operating in the area, producing a total of 200,000 ounces a year.

Atlantic Gold didn’t accept the UARB decision; on 10 April 2018, it appealed it to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

Abandoned gold mines in eastern Nova Scotia.(NSDNR)

…not all “things” were “worked out.” There are still two ongoing cases with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) between the mining company and people unhappy about losing their land to the mine.

One of the complainants is Wayne Oakley. In its decision on his case in February 2018, the UARB noted that this was the very first time that a person’s entire property and home was expropriated in Nova Scotia.

It ordered Atlantic Gold to pay Oakley $350,750, of which $305,000 was the agreed market value of the property and $47,450 compensation for the disturbance he had suffered.
Atlantic Gold doesn’t intend to limit gold production to one mine in Nova Scotia, or “backyard Canada,” as the firm has dubbed Nova Scotia.xi Since DDV Gold got the environmental go-ahead for Touquoy, it has shape-shifted into a complex family of Canadian and Australian subsidiaries.

Cyanide questions
Transport Canada categorizes the sodium cyanide (solid) used by Atlantic Gold as a Class 6.1 toxic substance, a dangerous good requiring Category I packaging for transport – or the most secure form of “containment.” If transported in quantities greater than a tonne, it requires an Emergency Response Assistance Plan.

..The cyanide would move by rail from Memphis, Tennessee to Truro, where it would be loaded into trucks operated by Brookville Transport and travel on Highway 102, “as this would be the safest road available and the one that would allow the fastest response in case there were any incidents.” The trucks would use Exit 8, and continue over Highways 224 and 227 to the Moose River Road and the mine site.

…The cyanide for Atlantic Gold is being transported on narrow and winding 200-series roads that, in winter, are often extremely slippery.

The Touquoy mine underwent a provincial Class I environmental assessment (EA), which involves just 30 days of public comment leading to a final decision by the Minister of Environment as few as 50 days after a project is registered.

It is not clear why the Touquoy project did not trigger a federal assessment by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). It met several of the criteria for such an assessment, including the fact that it exceeded daily ore production of 600 tonnes, and placed at risk adjacent fish habitat.

On the revenue side, however, it is impossible to calculate what the province will actually receive from the mines in royalty payments. In Nova Scotia, like most jurisdictions in Canada where the mining industry is so influential and so heavily influences policies, the government receives a 1% royalty of the “net value” received by the gold producer. This allows corporations to deduct the capital expenses of expanding mining operations and the operating costs of gold production, and pay no royalties until they declare a profit.
Barbara Markovits of Eastern Shore Forest Watch worries that the Eastern Shore, which has already suffered from intensive clearcutting, will become “a sacrifice zone” if gold mining proceeds according to industry plans that seem to be heavily supported by government.

“Gold mines can and do close without warning and without sufficient clean-up,” she tells me. “Even if mines reach their three- to five-year projected lifetime, the Eastern Shore will be hosting many derelict industrial sites with buried toxic waste.”

She adds, “The valuable fresh clean water will be contaminated with mining waste and the mining companies will be long gone.”

So many thanks to Joan Baxter//Cape Breton Spectator//Halifax Examiner for their superb investigative journalism on issues that matter to all of us; and to Woods and Waters Nova Scotia for highlighting such journalism.

The other sleeper or half sleeper I am worried about: forest bioenergy, and Nova Scotia GHGs generally (re LNG terminals). I am guessing that the Independent Review of Forestry Practices will leave at least one window open on that front, and you know what happens to heat loss on a cold day in winter if you leave one window open.

I had kind of been thinking that I might wrap up this blog if the Independent Review of Forestry Practices produces a really sterling report.

Joan’s gold-mining pieces reminded me that there is no rest for the wicked.

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