Mining Development a Sneak Attack on Public Lands, Waters: San Gold Corporation Starting New Toxic Tailings Pond Near Wanipigow River Before Environmental Licence Issued

The Wilderness Committee

WINNIPEG—The Wilderness Committee is calling out San Gold Corporation, Manitoba Conservation and the Manitoba Mines Branch for sneaking ahead with the development of a new tailings pond near Bissett, Manitoba before the public consultations were concluded and an environmental licence issued.

San Gold has applied for a licence to build a new tailings pond to hold toxic mine wastewater from their gold mine. The proposed tailings pond will drain into a tributary of the Wanipigow River about 45 kilometres upstream from Lake Winnipeg. A 30-day public comment period on the proposal ended on May 24, 2012, and a decision on whether to issue a licence is expected in the next few months. On June 7, a research expedition to the site of the proposed development found that work on the project had already started, and the forest had already been razed.

"Something here stinks. It is reasonable to think that if a government is asking for input on a project licence, they won't start building until after the comments are collected and a licence issued," said Eric Reder, Campaign Director with the Wilderness Committee.

The Wilderness Committee has raised concerns about the environmental licensing process in the past. Several peat mine licences were issued in 2011, against the advice of Manitoba Conservation staff. In 2009, a licence was issued to Tolko Industries to build a logging road, against the wishes of the majority of public comments and experts from Manitoba Conservation.

"Obviously the environmental licencing system is broken, if the provincial government allows destructive development to proceed before public discussions are even undertaken," said Reder. "We need a transparent, responsible new system, and someone needs to be held accountable for the breakdown on this project."

"As for San Gold, they hosted a community event to talk about concerns with their proposal, without mentioning they've already started work on the project," he said. "How are we supposed to trust this company to store their toxic waste on the shore of the Wanipigow River?"


High definition b-roll video of the development is available. High-resolution images of the development are also available.

For more information, please contact Eric Reder, (204) 997–8584

The Wilderness Committee is Canada's largest membership-based, citizen-funded wilderness preservation organization. We work for the preservation of Canadian and international wilderness through research and grassroots education. The Wilderness Committee works on the ground to achieve ecologically sustainable communities. We work only through lawful means.

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Contact information:
The Wilderness Committee - Manitoba Field Office
3rd floor, 303 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3B 2B4
(204) 942-9292