DDV Gold (a subsidiary of Atlantic Gold NL, an Australian company) plans to start an open pit mine at Moose River Gold
Mines in 2014. This type of mining has extreme impacts on the landscape as you can see in this
To learn more, read on.....
The Proposed Open Pit Gold Mine at Moose River
|The Fish River watershed downstream from the proposed mine
The mine’s operation
will have a multitude of impacts on the environment and the people living in Eastern HRM
OUR AIR and WATER: The mine will release cyanide gas and acid-rain compounds along with dust.
Acid rain is well-known to reduce productivity of forests, and to affect the survival of fish. Acid rain is a major
threat for the rare Boreal Felt lichen, a federally-listed endangered species which lives in the vicinity of the mine site.
The mine effluent may not meet water quality guidelines, but even if it does, some contaminants - mercury, arsenic, lead,
cyanate - and nutrients in the form of nitrates will be constantly released into the Fish River (see red stream in map above).
These contaminants will make their way into our streams, lakes and ground water, even our well water.
Some toxins will be concentrated in the meat of game birds and animals, and eaten by unsuspecting residents. Water from
mine effluent has the potential of contaminating wells in several communities. Dust carried downwind may affect residents
with lung conditions, as well as our many elderly residents. Some of the jobs available to Eastern HRM workers will
involve hazardous materials and hazardous working conditions.
Nutrients (nitrates from cyanide decomposition) cause algal blooms which in turn kill fish. Other contaminants from
mining operations are known to affect fish health and reproduction. Accumulation of heavy metals in their tissues makes
fish unfit for human consumption.
OUR HUNTING: Small mammals, frogs and birds cannot be prevented from
getting in contact with contaminated tailing and polishing ponds on the mine site, which will in turn contaminate the food
chain through predators. Ducks dive and dabble in bottom mud which will be laden with toxic metals at the bottom of
the polishing pond.
OUR WILDLIFE: Besides eliminating a significant area of habitat, the noise
generated by the mine (blasting, traffic, crushers) will disturb fish and other wildlife, particularly the endangered mainland
moose, which lives in the area.
OUR WILDERNESS RECREATION: The Eastern Shore is valued for its pristine
wilderness for outdoors recreation. The newly-designated Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area lies immediately adjacent
to the mine site to the south and east. The mine will degrade the wilderness values so recently celebrated by both government
and local residents. In addition, campers at nearby Camp Kidston, run by the United Church of Canada, will be
constantly disturbed by construction and blasting noise, as well as dust in the air. Because the tailings impoundment
facility will not be lined, it is possible that seepage of mine effluent into ground water could affect the camp's water
OUR JOBS and BUSINESSES: The mine operation promises short-term jobs which will be offset by
the loss of longer-term jobs in the conventional tourism and eco-tourism industries. Enterprises dependent on clean
water, eg. shellfish production, lobster pounds, will be threatened.
OUR PEOPLE: Eastern Shore
residents have for many years repeatedly rejected the development of heavy polluting industries, and residents have raised
strong objections to this project with the provincial government. In addition, there has been no consultation with First
Nations about their interests and concerns in the lands that would be affected by the project.
The mine will be using large amounts of energy and will be a significant producer of CO2. This venture clearly
violates the intention of Nova Scotia's Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, and ignores its social responsibility
to address the effects of global warming.
OUR FUTURE: It is the company's stated intention
to develop a gold mining industry in Nova Scotia. This would mean that the impacts on human and environmental health
would multiply and that the toxicity associated with gold mining would affect an increasing amount of Nova Scotia's land
mass and waterways. Without a thorough public debate, this is unacceptable.
We request that Department
of Fisheries and Oceans Canada play a key role in determining the merits of this project, within a federal Environmental Assessment
We request that an independent, impartial expert conduct a cost-benefit analysis, with the results made
public, before the government takes any action to approve the proposed gold mine at Moose River.
|Los Frailes gold mine, Spain: tailings dam break, 1998
SPILL OF CYANIDE DURING TRANSPORT: More than 12 tons of cyanide a week
will be transported over rugged country roads in all weathers through populated areas and along waterways. A few kg
of cyanide spilled in a river will wipe out all life in its path downstream. The fatal human dose of cyanide is about
a teaspoon of 2% cyanide solution.
ACCIDENTAL RELEASE OF CONTAMINANTS FROM THE MINE: A failure
of the water treatment process, or a spill of untreated mine effluent occurring between planned tests will have disastrous
consequences for the water downstream, even before the spill is detected. Once released, the contamination's progress
downstream cannot be stopped.
TAILINGS POND DAM FAILURE: The dam is planned to be built up to
20 m high during the life of the mine, and will have to retain millions of tons of tailings. A dam failure - and there
are many recent disastrous examples in the world - will be catastrophic. All the problems outlined previously
would become acute rather than chronic. Any royalties, taxes and bonds collected by the NS government from the operation
of the mine would not even approach the cost of cleaning up the damage.
UNANTICIPATED EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS:
Hurricane Juan in 2003 and post-tropical storm Noel in November 2007 demonstrate the enormous and unpredictable power of natural
forces. A prolonged power outage would disrupt all mining operations, including those addressing environmental safety,
with unpredictable consequences.
FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF AN ACCIDENT: Because much of
the financing will come from selling the gold forward, while it is still in the ground, an accident which causes the mine
to close would also vaporize the company's line of credit. If the company goes bankrupt, taxpayers will be stuck
with catastrophic clean-up costs which can reach many millions of dollars.
We request that the government
utilize the precautionary principle: when an action risks causing severe harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific
consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who advocate the action. Simply stated, don't
play with matches, don't run with scissors. In two environmental assessments the company has not adequately
made the case that this project is safe. The well-documented potential for damage to human and environmental health
from this project, as well as the financial risk, outweighs any possible short-term economic benefit.
|Open Pit Mine, Kittila, Finland
of the Proposed Moose River Gold Mine
RIVER WILL REMAIN A PROFOUNDLY DISTURBED SITE
• The open pit - an enormous hole in sterile rock, not a
living lake, unable to sustain very much life for years to come.
• A 15 storey-high pile of waste rock, 20 million
tons, will not be support native vegetation for decades.
• Native vegetation will recover very slowly on the site,
despite replanting. The area will be a derelict industrial site, a devastated wasteland for years or decades.
Concentrated toxic material from the polishing pond will be buried within the abandoned tailings pond, and will constitute
a chemical time-bomb, vulnerable to ground water seepage and future inadvertent disturbances.
• Monitoring and treatment of the mine effluent after decommissioning will be needed for decades,
as is the case for the Rio Algom mine in southwest Nova Scotia, or quite possibly forever.
• Rain and snow water
seeping through tailings will continue leaching contaminants and carrying them into surface and ground water through paths
often difficult to predict, and therefore difficult to monitor.
• The costly legacy of gold mining is the focus
of research done by the Commission on Historical Gold mining, which has been dealing with heath hazards related to past gold
mining in Nova Scotia. For example, clams in Seal Harbour were found to contain 1000 times the allowable limit for arsenic
in food. Clam digging there is now prohibited.
We request that a joint Federal/Provincial Environmental Assessment examine the gold mine application
before this venture is approved, before the Eastern Shore becomes a toxic mine tailings dump.
request an immediate full public debate to inform Nova Scotians of the
issues involved in hard-rock mining.