When Sherritt Gordon Mines and Black Hawk Mining had taken all the copper, zinc, nickel and gold they could get out of the Lynn Lake, Manitoba, they closed their mines and took their profits, but they left millions of tonnes of toxic tailings and a devastated community behind.
Sherritt-Gordon used their profits from northern Manitoba to build the basis for a number of very profitable companies, including Agrium, Dynatec and Sherritt International. Sherritt International is the main proponent in the controversial Cheviot Mine. Black Hawk is now Glencairn Gold, owner of the Limón Mine in northwest Nicaragua, the Bellavista Mine in Costa Rica (under construction), and a number of exploration properties.
Now the First Nation and the Town of Lynn Lake are working together to heal the land and reclaim a future for their children. On April 15, they met with five Ministers of the Manitoba Government to present their case one more time. The Manitoba Government had been responsible for protecting the public interest in the operation of these mines; they also collected any royalties and taxes that they paid.
Marcel Colomb First Nation and the Town have been requesting the following from the Manitoba government:
- a new water system: the old one has been corroded by tailings (the acidic toxic waste left behind after ore is extracted), until the tap water is the colour of tea;
- a proper health assessment of the impact of tailings on the community: the only study done to date includes no human testing, no medical or epidemiological studies;
- clean-up and proper management of the abandoned tailings areas, which cover over 250 hectares beside the town;
- support for the development of an urban reserve in the Town of Lynn Lake;
- support for the Town’s court case to get $6 million in unpaid back taxes from Black Hawk.
More information is available in our backgrounder After the Mine: Lynn Lake, Manitoba.