Many residents of Marathon and Pic River have come together to express support for a very thorough environmental assessment of a proposed open pit copper mining operation near town. Folks in Marathon have had a particularly disheartening experience with the local pulp and paper mill. When the mill closed last year, workers had to line up behind other creditors to try to recover some of their severance and pension benefits. Even worse, the mill operations left a toxic legacy on the mill site and in the harbour. The multi-million dollar remediation costs have defaulted to taxpayers.
The group, Citizens for a Responsible Mine in Marathon, is petitioning the Canadian Enviromental Assessment Agency (CEAA) for a rigourous panel review of the mine project. It is hoped that the parties conducting the assessment are granted sufficient time and scope to assess environmental effects, a broader range of tailings management options, operational and closure plans and financial assurances, given the unpredictability of metal markets.
Some residents, including yours truly, are troubled that one of only two tailings management alternatives advanced by the Marathon PGM Corporation would have toxic tailings dumped directly in Bamoos Lake, a very deep, healthy, 10,000 year old body of water that supports native stocks of Brook Trout and Lake Trout. Bamoos has been a very popular winter fishing locale for many generations of anglers from Marathon and the Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation. As a food source, Bamoos offers the nearest safe alternative to the Lake Trout of Peninsula Harbour, which carry dangerous burdens of mercury and PCBs.
Lake Trout angled from Bamoos, Feb, 2010. K. Drake photo.
Most mining companies don't dump their waste into healthy lakes and the practice is very controversial, as outlined in this CBC story. In the United States, lakes cannot be used as mine dumps.
I hope that Marathon PGM, the citizens group and the expert review panel can come up with a plan that results in a prosperous business and a clean environment in the near future, and in the centuries following the mine's projected 11 year lifespan.
Please consider joining Citizens for a Responsible Mine in Marathon - a Facebook group for people in favour of a thorough environmental assessment.
Submit your comments/concerns about this project to the Canadian Environmental Assessment agency.
Project Track from the Government of Canada's Major Project Management Office (includes links to the proponent's Feb 2010 Project Description)
Project overview from the Marathon MGM Corporation.