Blog Entry

Dilution is Not the Solution – Mining Pollution, Compliance and Recognizing Indigenous Laws to Protect Watersheds

Join the Webinar on May 12th 2021 | Noon (Vancouver/Seattle) | 3pm (Toronto/NewYork) Register Here


  • Tŝilhqot’in Nation’s legal challenge against Gibraltar Mine (Taseko Mines)
  • Nadleh Whut’en & Stellat’en First Nations’ successful efforts at Endako Mine (Centerra Gold / Thompson Creek Metals)


  • Chief Francis Laceese (Tl’esqox Nation)
  • Chief Larry Nooski (Nadleh Whut’en Nation)
  • Councillor Chad Stump (ʔEsdilagh Nation)
  • J.P. Laplante (Sr. advisor for Tŝilhqot’in Nen / Water, Lands and Resources)
  • Rina Freed & Georgina Farah (Source Environmental Associates)
  • Deborah Curran (Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria)

Why Now?

The industry is working hard to paint B.C. mining as “green” and meeting global ESG standards because it can supply “low-carbon” materials needed to support the green energy transition. But unless the B.C. Government enforces laws and standards to:

  • protect water and ensures mine waste dumps do not put communities and watersheds at risk,
  • respect community decisions and Indigenous consent, and
  • make sure companies pay to clean up their mess,

environmental destruction and social conflicts will continue to occur. The B.C. Environmental Appeal Board hearing regarding the Tŝilhqot’in Nation’s legal challenge against Gibraltar Mine (Taseko Mines) mine wastewater discharge into the Fraser River is due to finish on May 21st, 2021.

The Problem

The B.C. Government permits mines to discharge mine wastewater directly into lakes and rivers with little to no treatment, counting on a dilution factor to lower pollution levels, despite Indigenous and local opposition, concerns about water quality, as well as impacts to fish and wildlife.

The Role of Indigenous Laws

In response to the mismanagement of mine wastewater, a growing number of First Nations are upholding their jurisdiction, rights and title with respect to water, and their laws that demand better protection for the watersheds that people share (e.g. see the ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan “Sturgeon River Law”  and the Yinka Dene Surface Water Law )

On Mine Water Pollution Issues in British Columbia:

Sign on to reform B.C. Mining Laws