WASHINGTON, DC – A report released today identifies unprecedented risks associated with the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine proposed in northwest British Columbia near the Alaska border. Seabridge Gold's KSM Project Risk Analysis details a mounting list of challenges facing the controversial project in the weeks leading up to the company’s annual shareholder meeting on June 24, 2015.
KSM is a copper, gold, silver and molybdenum mine proposed by Toronto based Seabridge Gold (TSX:SEA) (NYSE:SA), a junior mining company, which holds a 100% interest in the project.
Five key risks outlined in the report include:
- UNFAVORABLE ECONOMICS: Seabridge’s economic feasibility analysis is based on unrealistic metals prices; low long-term metals prices are forecast by PriceWaterhouseCoopers as of June 2015; KSM’s low-grade deposit, remote location and lack of infrastructure make the economics problematic, according to analysts.
- USE OF DISCREDITED MINE WASTE TAILINGS DAM TECHNOLOGY: KSM’s tailings dam would be amongst the highest (237m) in the world and contain an estimated 2 billion tons of submerged tailings – more than 27 times the volume at Mount Polley. Yet, KSM’s plan to leave submerged tailings after mine closure conflicts with the Mount Polley disaster review panel’s recommendations. The panel called the use of tailings ponds that store water and mine tailings “risky, outdated” technology, and predicted another two tailings dam failures every ten years in British Columbia if the industry doesn’t eliminate these water-based mine waste impoundments.
- UNPRECEDENTED WATER MANAGEMENT: KSM is a sulfide ore body, likely to require water treatment in perpetuity for acid mine drainage. The mine plan includes annual water treatment for up to 20.8 billion gallons of water per year – nearly eight times that of Utah’s Bingham Canyon Mine, the largest open pit mine in North America. High closure costs for water treatment estimated at over $1 billion.
- POLITICAL OPPOSITION INCREASING WITH CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION: Alaska’s congressional delegation has raised serious concerns about KSM, asking Secretary of State Kerry to conduct bilateral discussions with the Canadian government. In May 2015, Alaska’s Lt. Governor Mallott travelled to B.C. to meet with cabinet ministers and highlight concerns over transboundary mining issues in the aftermath of the Mount Polley catastrophe.
“No other mining operations that I know of comes close to managing and treating this volume of water, including the Pebble proposal,” said David Chambers, Ph.D., Professional Geophysicist. “Based on the estimated treatment costs in the EIS, the trust fund for post-closure water treatment alone would need to be approximately $1 billion.”
The report is authored by Earthworks and Salmon Beyond Borders — a coalition of Alaska Native tribal members, commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen.
For a full copy of the report: https://earthworks.org/seabridge_golds_ksm_project_risk_analysis1#.VYFimVxViko