----- Original Message ----- 
From: Maggie Paquet 
To: maggie paquet 
Sent: Tuesday, March 21, 2006 6:17 AM
Subject: Press Release, World Water Day, New Threats to Clean Water from Mining 

Here is a press release about new threats to clean water from the North 
American mining industry.

Media: please use, not embargoed.

Individuals and organisations: please send to your local media outlets today 
(print & electronic)


You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
   -- Mahatma Gandhi

Maggie Paquet
5232A Margaret Street
Port Alberni, BC   V9Y 6J2
Ph: 250-723-8802


Press Release                         For Immediate Release

March 21, 2006


New Threats to Clean Water from Mining Industry on the 14th Anniversary of
World Water Day


As the 14th anniversary of World Water Day dawns, new threats to clean water 
are emerging from the North American mining industry. The international 
observance of World Water Day—begun in 1993—is an initiative that grew out of 
the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 
Rio de Janeiro. On Wednesday, 22 March 2006, communities around the world will 
again celebrate World Water Day.

Despite this, the mining industry has been pushing to relax laws that protect 
water, fish, and wildlife in both the US and Canada. Several mining companies 
are proposing to undermine existing laws to allow the dumping of mine wastes 
and waste rock into fresh water bodies—including those that are important 
habitat for fish, migratory waterfowl, and other species, some endangered. This 
is a “cheap and easy” means of disposing of mine wastes.

Among the numerous Canadian mine proposals planning to dump waste into 
fish-bearing waters are the Kemess North, Huckleberry, and Red Chris mines in 
northern British Columbia, and Aur Resources’ “Duck Pond” mine in central 
Newfoundland. US mines slated for freshwater disposal of mine wastes include 
the Kensington mine in Alaska, currently under judicial review, and the Pebble 
mine proposed for the near future in the Bristol Bay region, also in Alaska. 
Several of these proposed mines will affect waterbodies in the traditional 
territories of aboriginal communities—many already negatively affected by 
“historic” mines and their wastes.

Before clean water regulations began taking effect in the 1970s and ’80s, 
underwater disposal of mine wastes was common all across North America, where 
lakes were frequently used as unregulated tailings dumps for mines. Mine waste 
disposal in near-shore marine areas also affects oceans, estuaries, and bays in 
a number of countries around the world. Wherever it occurs, it is a very 
controversial practice.

In the US and Canada, mining companies have lobbied strenuously, and are very 
close to getting government rules changed in both countries that will allow 
regulators to redefine water bodies as tailings impoundment areas—or to 
redefine waste as simple fill—so companies can deposit mine wastes with 

At Alaska’s Kensington mine, the Corps of Engineers (COE) has re-classified 
mine waste from “waste” to “fill” and issued a permit allowing the disposal of 
waste into a sub-alpine lake. This re-classification allows what was previously 
prohibited to now occur, not because there has been any reduction in harm to 
the environment or any increased effectiveness in treating mine wastes, but 
simply because this waste disposal method is cheaper.

“This is clearly a violation of the US Clean Water Act,” said Kat Hall of the 
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “If the Kensington mine project is 
allowed to fill Lower Slate Lake with mine waste, we have opened a floodgate 
for similar projects throughout the US.”

In Canada, the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation (MMER), a regulation under the 
federal Fisheries Act, currently prevents the dumping of mine wastes into 
fish-bearing waterbodies. Before the revised MMER came into effect, there were 
many examples of freshwater mine tailings disposal in Canada, including lakes 
in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland/Labrador. The MMER allows 
only up to 15 mg per liter on average per month of total suspended solids (TSS) 
discharge of mine waste into fish-bearing waters. When the MMER was revised in 
2002, the government added the controversial Schedule 2. At the time, 
Environment Canada said Schedule 2 would only be used to “legalize historic 
mines.” If approved by Cabinet, however, it will allow any fish-bearing water 
body in the country to be redefined as a tailings impoundment area. Schedule 2 
was slipped in at the end of a very exhaustive ten-year review process. There 
are now about half a dozen mine projects awaiting approval under Schedule 2 of 
the Canadian MMER.

JP LaPlante, mining coordinator for the Takla Lake First Nation stated, “Title 
and rights decisions for First Nations must be made before the decision to fill 
Amazay (Duncan) Lake with mine waste. The British Columbia government has 
manipulated the environmental assessment and mine approval processes to keep 
First Nations out of front-line decision-making on the fate of this important 
cultural and subsistence resource for our band members.”

“Tribes and First Nations in the US and Canada stand to lose more of an already 
impaired cultural and subsistence resource base,” stated Robert Shimek, Mining 
Projects Coordinator for the Bemidji MN-based Indigenous Environmental 
Network.. “As we celebrate World Water Day, I ask all citizens in both 
countries to protest the efforts by mining companies, as well as some 
government regulators, to undermine the intent of clean water laws across North 
America. In the American West, mining companies have already contaminated about 
40% of the watersheds. Clean water is a human right. Clean water sustains the 
web of life we all rely on. We all have to step up to meet these new threats to 
clean water from the mining industry.”

An international coalition of concerned citizens is working to raise the 
profile of this destructive practice and challenge the mining industry and 
government efforts to weaken laws that protect our water, and our fish and 
wildlife resources.


For more information please contact:

Kat Hall, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (907) 586-6942

JP LaPlante, Takla Lake First Nation, 250-564-9321, ext 6

Robert Shimek, Indigenous Environmental Network, (218) 751-4967

Amy Crook, Center for Science in Public Participation, 250-721-3627

Maggie Paquet, CEN Mining Caucus, member MMER-MAG group, 250-723-8802

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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