British Columbia: Open Pit Mining Planned for Clayoquot Sound "Biosphere Reserve"

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“To say that we are dismayed at this news is an understatement,” said Joe Foy, Wilderness Committee National Campaign Director. 
  • “I could scarcely think of a more environmentally damaging project than an open pit copper mine smack in the middle of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. If the Selkirk Metals actually believes this open pit mine project will ever see the light of day  then I think they must have rocks in their head. Opposition to this project will be local, national, global and massive,” he predicted.

Andy Miller, Staff Scientist at the Wilderness Committee, who has been studying the Catface mine proposal for over a year, echoed Foy’s concerns. 
  • “The Catface copper deposit has been known to exist for 50 years. The reason it was never developed is that it is economically marginal because the copper is of such low quality (0.37% copper), so diffuse, and so deep under-ground (up to 350 metres). The only way this proposed open pit mine would be economically feasible is if it is built on a huge scale. The most current recommendations include the development of a new port for container ships, several giant open pit mines, new dams and lakes to contain the most toxic waste products, kilometres of potentially toxic dust-generating conveyor belts, diesel generator power station(s), and roads. The proponent is even considering dumping the waste rock in the ocean, said Miller.”
  • “If this mine proceeds, said Miller, the side of Catface Mountain visible from Ahousaht and Tofino will be reduced to a pile of rubble. The deposit is 1000 feet deep, and 99.7% of the mined rock will be dumped on site as polluting waste.”
Copper mines similar to that proposed at Catface have horrible environmental records. The Copper Mines at Butte Montana, for example, are the site of the largest and most expensive toxic waste cleanup in United States history, and cancer rates are off the charts. The copper mine at nearby Mt Washington, BC wiped out all five species of Salmon in the Tsolum River.
At Catface, a stream emerging from one of the exploratory drill sites contains deadly copper at concentrations 21 times greater than that considered safe for humans, and other testing revealed copper and arsenic up to 60 times above the safe limit. 
  • “If the mine goes ahead, says Miller, it will be one of the lowest quality copper mines of similar size in the world, and could be an environmental catastrophe for Clayoquot Sound and its residents.”

For more information contact Joe Foy cell tel: (604) 880-2580 or Andy Miller cell tel: 604-992-3099, or at:
Wilderness Committee office tel (604) 683-8220

Sue Fox | Director of Publications, Communications and Special Events

Wilderness Committee | Canada's largest membership-based wilderness preservation organization

Office: 4 Floor, 341 Water St., Vancouver, BC V6B 1B8
Mail: 227 Abbott St., Vancouver, BC V6B 2K7
Office: 604-683-8220 | Fax: 604-683-8229


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