Ecology Action Centre flags safety concerns and lack of transparency in Touquoy gold mine request

Thursday, July 28, 2022

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Ecology Action Centre is alerting the public to a potential decision regarding the Touquoy open pit gold mine at Moose River by Nova Scotia’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Tim Halman. Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia Inc. has submitted a request to the province to modify their gold mine operating permit to increase the height of the tailings dam wall and allow more mining waste to be deposited there. The decision could have dramatic ramifications for the health of the province’s environment and local communities. 

“The request and its respective review process raises major concerns with regards to safety and lack of transparency,” says Karen McKendry, wilderness outreach coordinator with EAC. “Globally, there are many examples of tailings dams failing. These breaches lead to toxic mining waste spilling out across nearby areas, resulting in the obliteration and contamination of watercourses, groundwater and wildlife, while jeopardizing the health and safety of people.” 

In August 2014, the Mount Polley mine tailings pond, consisting of copper and gold mining waste, breached in British Colombia spilling an estimated 25 billion litres of mining waste into nearby watercourses. Eight years later, contaminated slurry remains in the waterways, impacts are still being observed and clean-up efforts are still being completed. McKendry cautions against increasing the risk of a similar disaster in Nova Scotia by increasing the holding capacity of the Touquoy tailings pond without a proper environmental assessment process. 

“The proposed modification to raise the tailings dam wall at the Touquoy mine should go through the environmental assessment process, complete with a public comment period,” says McKendry. “The company has proven that it cannot be trusted to prioritize protection of nearby communities and the environment.”  

Earlier this year, Atlantic Mining was found guilty of multiple charges of failing to comply with environmental regulations at and around its Touquoy mine. The company is now seeking a change to the project’s industrial approval – a change that McKendry says has not been done through a transparent process with a high level of oversight, noting that the public was not even informed of the proposed modification. 

“It’s unclear as to the science and recommendations upon which Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change will base their decision,” notes McKendry. “The tailings dam was not originally engineered to withstand the volume of mining waste now proposed, and the original 2008 environmental assessment for the mine did not evaluate or seek public input on these current plans. Nova Scotians need the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to do the right thing and protect Nova Scotians and our nature, and not bow to pressure tactics from the gold mining industry.” 


Media Contact

Karen McKendry (she/her)
Wilderness Outreach Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre  

Mimi O'Handley (she/her)
Wetlands and Water Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre 

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