Posted on January 18, 2010 (updated: January 18, 2010)

Controversial mine in South Nahanni watershed headed for rigorous scrutiny

The Dehcho First Nations (DFN) Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and Ecojustice are pleased to announce that the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board has decided in favour of DFN and CPAWS’ request to scope the entire Prairie Creek mine project, including the winter road, into one environmental assessment. In a March 5 decision, the Board rejected Canadian Zinc Corporation’s attempts to cut parts of the mine project – like the road – out of this review.

The Prairie Creek mine is situated in the South Nahanni Watershed in the Northwest Territories. An area of spectacular beauty and diversity, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the South Nahanni River is threatened by mining activity – particularly from contaminated mine waste in the watershed. A 170 km haul road to the mine threatens sensitive karst formations and fragments wildlife habitat.

Importantly, the Federal Government (Indian and Northern Affairs, Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Natural Resources Canada) also requested that the entire Prairie Creek mine project, including the winter road, be subject to one comprehensive environmental assessment.

Grand Chief Gerald Antoine, in commenting on the Review Board decision, said:

“DFN have been insisting from day one that the Prairie Creek mine project needs to be assessed collectively. The decision of the Review Board is a step in the right direction.

I now encourage all the federal and territorial agencies and the developer to work with DFN through this environmental assessment, to ensure all appropriate environmental and mitigation measures will be developed. Our objective is to ensure the integrity of the South Nahanni watershed.”

Lani Cooke, Executive Director of the NWT Chapter of CPAWS, added:

“Any development in the South Nahanni watershed must be done in a safe and responsible manner, sustaining the environment and communities. We applaud the Board’s decision, and look forward to participating in a rigorous environmental review aimed at protecting this magnificent area for generations to come.”

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