- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Significant levels of copper and zinc were found downstream from the Tulsequah Chief Mine in British Columbia, but the mine’s drainage poses low risk to fish in the Tulsequah River, according to a recent water quality report.

The third-party assessment released Dec. 20 was conducted at the direction of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, the Juneau Empire (https://is.gd/3bZit5) reported Wednesday.

The mine is located about 40 miles north of Juneau.

Toronto-based Chieftain Metals Inc. purchased the property after former owner Redfern Corp. went bankrupt in 2009. The mine shut down in June 2012 and the treatment plant ceased to operate, placing Chieftain out of compliance with the ministry. The company has said cost overruns precipitated the shutdown and the water treatment plant would not be operated until adequate funds were secured.

The ministry in April 2012 required Chieftain to treat acid waters coming from the excavation and removal of old waste rock, according to a letter last summer from ministry official Ian Sharpe. The letter directed the company to hire a professional to provide a risk assessment of the current mine discharge.

According to the letter, the ministry in July 2012 required the mine to determine an interim water treatment strategy and regularly test water quality.

“Since then, the Ministry has been receiving regular water quality submissions, and communicating with Chieftain to review the status of the project,” the letter states.

For the risk assessment, water quality was tested at four sites in the Tulsequah River. The study also looked at the impact on various types of fish, including salmon and trout.

The study identified copper, cadmium, zinc and lead as contaminants of potential concern, based on tests between April 2012 and July 2013. According to the report, Tulsequah waters are diluted six times when mixed with Taku waters. The study says that dilution would be more than required to reduce hazard quotients to acceptable levels.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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