Public feedback opens on Record Ridge mine environmental assessment

By Wildsight
May 15th, 2024

A month-long public feedback period opens today on whether WHY Resources’ proposed open pit magnesium mine at Record Ridge, outside of Rossland, B.C., should require an environmental assessment.

The feedback period comes in response to a formal request from Wildsight to the province, in which the organization pointed to several technical issues with the mine proposal, and serious environmental concerns.

“The Record Ridge mining operation would cause certain damage to the local population of threatened mountain holly ferns, which is one of only four known populations in all of Canada, and a threatened grassland community that provides important foraging habitat for local ungulates,” says Simon Wiebe, Mining Policy and Impacts Researcher at Wildsight. “Given these values, we’re very concerned by the numerous tactics that WHY Resources has employed to try to avoid an environmental assessment.”

WHY Resources has applied for permits as an industrial mineral mine, despite its targeted resource not being listed as an industrial mineral under B.C. law. Industrial mineral mines, which are similar to quarries, are able to harvest more ore than traditional mineral or metal mines without needing to go through the environmental assessment process.

“This is just one of several deceptive tactics the company is using to try to evade an environmental assessment and streamline its permitting process. It has also applied for a two-year permit, despite the company’s website claiming the mine could operate for anywhere from 20 to 172 years,” Wiebe says.

“This is a common practice in mining; it’s far too easy for mines to bypass environmental regulations by ‘starting small’, and applying for permits to expand later on. Once there’s an open pit already in place, permits are much easier to obtain,” he says.

The Record Ridge mine would be capable of extracting 200,000 tonnes of ore per year. WHY Resources recently lowered that number from 249,000 tonnes after the province questioned the company over why its proposed extraction amount was so close to the 250,000 tonne threshold that would automatically trigger an environmental assessment.

The mine proposal has also caused widespread community concern over impacts to the internationally renowned Seven Summits mountain biking and hiking trail, increased noise, traffic and dust problems, and potential human and wildlife health impacts.

“Mining has long been of importance to the local and provincial economy, but we must also recognize the enormous environmental impacts that mining can have, and question what we’re willing to sacrifice to extract these minerals,” Wiebe says. “Environmental assessments are designed to identify what those sacrifices would be, so the province can make informed decisions and ensure mining projects cause as little damage as possible.

“If enough people speak up during this public feedback period, we have a real opportunity to ensure that the environmental impact of the Record Ridge mine is properly assessed.”

The public feedback period on Wildsight’s request for an environmental assessment will run from May 15 to June 14, 2024. Wildsight encourages anyone who has concerns to make a written submission through the provincial EAO website.

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