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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Main Panel Finding
The Kemess North Mine Joint Review Panel (the “Panel”) has concluded that development of the Kemess North Copper/Gold Project (the “Project”) in its present form would not be in the public interest. In the Panel’s view, the economic and social benefits provided by the Project, on balance, are outweighed by the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and cultural effects, some of which may not emerge until many years after mining operations cease. The Panel recommends to the federal and provincial Ministers of the Environment that the Project not be approved as proposed.
The Panel’s main finding is based on a comprehensive synthesis and analysis of the information provided to the Panel regarding adverse and beneficial Project effects. These effects were used as the basis for the assessment of the pros and cons of Project development from a range of perspectives. One of the most important components of a panel review is to integrate public values, as well as government policy expectations, into the review process. In order to weigh the Project development pros and cons in the context of public values and policy expectations, the Panel chose to adopt what it considered to be an appropriate sustainability assessment framework. In developing this framework, the Panel consulted recent mining sector sustainability initiatives, as well as the B.C. government’s 2005 Mining Plan. The framework was used to determine whether or not the Project is in the public interest.
The Panel has considered the Project from five sustainability perspectives: Environmental Stewardship; Economic Benefits and Costs; Social and Cultural Benefits and Costs; Fairness in the Distribution of Benefits and Costs; and Present versus Future Generations. The Panel notes that the Project’s benefits accrue for only a relatively short period (two years of construction and 11 years of mining production). This period could be reduced if the Project, which is not economically robust, were to close prematurely. Key adverse effects include the loss of a natural lake with important spiritual values for Aboriginal people, and the creation of a long-term legacy of environmental management obligations at the minesite to protect downstream water quality and public safety. These obligations may continue for several thousand years, and include ongoing treatment of poor quality water from the open pit (the “North Pit”), and regular monitoring and maintenance of the waste disposal impoundment (the “Duncan Impoundment”) and its three dams, to preserve the desired water balance and water chemistry in the Impoundment and to ensure the health of its aquatic ecosystem. The Panel also notes that it may be difficult for Aboriginal people to increase their share of Project benefits, although as the region’s primary residents and users, they would experience first-hand any impacts on traditionally- used resources.
The Panel has prepared a comprehensive report that attempts to summarize and examine all of the information considered in the review process. The detail and scope of the report reflects the complexity of the Project and the challenges posed in weighing its pros and cons. The Panel’s intent in preparing a detailed report is to allow interested parties the opportunity to consider all of the information that the Panel has taken into account in reaching its conclusions and recommendations.
Acknowledging that Ministers could disagree with the Panel’s advice and approve the Project, the Panel has included thirty-two recommendations in this report which, in its view, would help to enhance Project benefits and facilitate efforts to manage and minimize adverse effects, should the Project proceed.