Opinions and questions: West High Yield's upcoming community meetings
West High Yield’s Open-Pit Magnesium Mine Proposal – upcoming Community Open House meetings and what they will (and will not) do
Readers may have seen the sandwich boards in Rossland, telling residents about the community information sessions that will be hosted by West High Yield this coming week. These public meetings are a required part of the West High Yield (WHY) application process, and they provide opportunities for residents to articulate their concerns and ask questions about WHY’s proposed open-pit magnesium mine on Record Ridge.
The meetings will be held at the Prestige Mountain Resort, on May 17 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, and on May 18 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM.
Residents should be assured that the application’s acceptance by the Ministry does not constitute approval; it is simply the first step in a mandated process. Further steps in the process include a technical review, which looks at many of the issues of concern to the community (ore toxicity, waste disposal, environmental impacts, access, and more), and formal consultations – those will happen later — with First Nations and the public.
Please note: these meetings on the 17th and 18th are NOT part of the required “public consultation” — showing up and expressing your concerns will NOT form a part of the necessary formal government consultation. If you want the Ministry to take your concerns into consideration, you will have to participate in the formal consultations when they are announced.
Locals have already expressed concerns about the size, weight and frequency of vehicles that would end up using the Old Cascade Highway to service the proposed mine, and whether or not those large vehicles would pass through downtown Rossland, or have to make a sharp right turn and go down Highway 22 through Paterson.
Another closely related concern is the safety of the Old Cascade Highway, and the feasibility and cost of bringing it up to the standard required to support the mine’s traffic, given the terrain it traverses. And whether or not the additional traffic will render that road unsafe for commuters to and from Big Sheep Creek.
Asbestos is another concern; will the mine generate asbestos-laced dust, and will that dust pose a hazard to hikers and bikers on the Seven Summits Trail, or residents in Rossland, Paterson, and Big Sheep Creek?
What about tailings? Where would the tailings be deposited – how would WHY keep tailings from contaminating surface water?
Jobs will be a talking point for WHY, but one question is, where would most of the jobs be – somewhere across the border, to process the ore and extract the magnesium?
In this time of accelerating climate change, when the recent measurement at the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded 423 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere – well over the estimated highest “safe” level of 350 ppm – some have asked, is it sensible to approve a mine that will create massive greenhouse gas emissions?
Some have questioned the financial and logistical feasibility of the proposal, and have suggested that it has more to do with inflating stock values than creating a mine – but with the disadvantage of damaging or destroying the locally important grassland ecosystem that covers much of the mineral claim area. The exploratory work has already brought invasive weeds into the grassland.
So, concerned citizens, do show up. Ask your questions. See if they are answered. Will WHY ultimately receive a permit? Time will tell, and the future formal consultation process can have some influence.
Below: invasive spotted knapweed in the WHY claim area.