KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – The Ecology Action Centre is raising concerns over two major gold mining approvals made by the Nova Scotia government this month. On Tuesday, August 2, Signal Gold Inc.’s proposal for their double open pit gold mine in Goldboro on the Eastern Shore was approved by Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (NSECC), Tim Halman. And then a week later on August 9, Atlantic Gold’s request to heighten the tailings dam wall at their already operating Touquoy mine was approved by the district manager of NSECC.
“The Department’s decisions facilitate the dramatic expansion of gold mining in Nova Scotia, all to the detriment of people, nature and the public purse,” says Mimi O’Handley, wetlands and water coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre. “And these two sites are just the beginning of the mining industry’s plans for Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. Atlantic Gold has proposed three more open pit gold mines in the areas of Beaver Dam, Fifteen Mile Stream and Cochrane Hill.”
The company plans to truck ore from these sites along highways and a haul road for disposal in the Touquoy pit, making what O’Handley refers to as one very large, contaminated site with significant negative cumulative impacts for the environment.
“In this day and age, the degradation of communities and the natural environment from open pit gold mining is indefensible,” says O’Handley.“Globally and locally, the gold mining industry contributes to the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse. Gold can be recycled infinitely and there is already more than enough mined gold to meet the needs of humans. In fact, Natural Resources Canada’s list of critical minerals does not include gold.“
O’Handley also raises concerns that the projects would infringe upon Treaty Rights and threaten traditional hunting grounds and gathering areas of the Mi’kmaq. Local Mi’kmaq community members rely on these lands for food security and more, and gold mining activities can severely damage the areas and restrict access. Both the existing and proposed mines are situated in some of the last remaining habitat of the endangered Mainland Moose.
The expansion of gold mining also has ramifications for taxpayers, says O’Handley. Atlantic Gold pays no corporate provincial tax, yet provincial funds contribute to making the company profitable. In 2019, the province spent $2.7 million to fix the public road to the Touquoy mine, which had been badly damaged by the trucks using it to access the mine.
“Nova Scotians pay and will continue to pay for the damage left by these mines,” Says O’Handley. “While we prop them up with our tax dollars, the company doesn’t even pay enough in royalties to cover the cost of managing the damage they leave behind. This is not fair to Nova Scotians and their families.”
Despite the short-term jobs and economic activity associated with these projects, O’Handley urges decision makers to consider the long-term environmental and economic consequences posed by toxic waste and environmental destruction from the open pit gold mining industry.
“We need a fair transition for those working in the industry to good, sustainable jobs where they are needed,” says O’Handley. “We need our government to make economic decisions that help Nova Scotians build a better future, not ones that prop up outdated and dangerous industries for the sake of short-term profit.”
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