Wilderness Committee calls on Manitoba government to take over remediation of TANCO mine disaster

Friday, September 13, 2013 (All day)

News Release - September 13, 2013

Dangerous mine conditions require government action to protect environment

WINNIPEG – According to an engineering report filed with the Manitoba government on August 30, an underground mine is on the verge of collapse under Bernic Lake in eastern Manitoba between Whiteshell and Nopiming Provincial Parks. The Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Ltd. (TANCO) Mine is owned by Cabot Corporation.

The document explains that pillars supporting the roof of the mine have been mined to remove remnant ore, stating: “the mine reduced the pillar width from 15 m down to 7.5 m. This, in essence, reduced the strength of these pillars”.

TANCO has applied for environmental permits to dam and drain the lake above the mine, in order to relieve pressure on the pillars so they can continue mining.

“Reading this report, I was shocked to see how risky and dangerous this situation has become,” said Eric Reder, Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee.

In their Environment Act Proposal, TANCO says there are only two options – dam and drain Bernic Lake, sending water with elevated levels of heavy metals through the wetlands into the Bird River, or have Bernic Lake collapse into the mine and cause greater contamination to the lake. The Bird River flows into the Winnipeg River, and then into Lake Winnipeg.

The Wilderness Committee is calling for the Manitoba government's Conservation and Water Stewardship branch to take over operations to mitigate this environmental catastrophe.


“The mining company has presented Manitobans with two unacceptable and ecologically devastating options,” said Reder. “I don’t think continuing to mine is the highest priority here. It’s time the government stepped in to clean up this environmental mess.”

The Wilderness Committee is also calling for an investigation to determine who is responsible for this predicament, and what type of Mines branch oversight was in place. TANCO should be charged for the costs of all remediation work and investigation that is required.

“The Bird River and the Winnipeg River are dear to a lot of people. Do Manitobans want a mining disaster putting these waterways at risk? I would say no, they don’t,” said Reder.

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For more information, contact:

Eric Reder, Manitoba Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
204-997–8584 (cell)

Additional links:

Environment Act Proposal documents for the TANCO mine
(see Appendix A for Crown Pillar Assessment – third-party engineering report)
http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/eal/registries/1906.3tanco/index.html

 

For images and TANCO mine map, visit
http://wildernesscommittee.org/manitoba/tanco_mine_images