Two emails hit the inbox today. Both told of presentations at hearing currently underway regarding the Taseko new Prosperity Mine. I am intrigued by the statements made by the experts. Here are few and my comments thereon. But first let me emphasize that I know little of the mine and have not read the expert’s report. Maybe Taseko will send them to me or make them available and I will read and comment on them. Taseko did invite me to the hearings. I wish I could have gone, but consulting demands re other mines precluded so indulgent an action.
Les Smith a venerable professor at the University of British Columbia is the first I quote. I have met him once or twice and sit on a peer review panel with him re a mine in Chile. I work with one of his PhD students. He comes across as a competent and responsible person, although I have at times disagreed with his conclusions.
He is reported as saying:
Dr. Leslie Smith, PhD., retained to provide Independent Technical Review of Seepage Predictions for the Tailings Storage Facility. His conclusions are largely supportive of Taseko’s position:
The approach taken by TML is reasonable; is at the conceptual level in terms of seepage mitigation; more work is required to move beyond this [work that would normally be required at the permit level as Taseko has suggested].
Project should have seepage control and mitigation measures in place before [mine] processing begins.
As his former student said on reading this: “I bet he said a lot more in his report. This is just up-front summary stuff. So general and vague as to be of no information. What are the seepage control and mitigation measures? Are they practical, implementable, cost-effective and will they work in practice? “
Thus we must ask: what more work is required? Is it likely to refute current conclusions? When will this be done? What is involved?
Thus we are left with vagueness and promises; nothing substantial; a mere typical consultant butt-covering; shame on Smith; could he not have smithed more definitive stuff; a junior professor could have said as much. And why a professor should be doing this is beyond me—this is the stuff of commercial consultants–as a taxpayer I resent professors blathering on thus at my expense. They should be teaching and researching–not competing with honest consultants who have to pay the rent and marketing costs. We await more.
Next we read of yet another commercial professor. John Meech is reported to have spoken thus:
Dr. Meech appeared at the hearings on behalf of the SHARE the Cariboo Resources Society. He presented the following findings:
It’s reasonable to conclude that the impacts on Fish Lake will not be adverse in terms of maintaining existing lake levels water quality, riparian and aquatic ecology.
The project will provide a significant long term economic stimulus to this region, to British Columbia and to Canada.
The entire plan shows that Taseko has pledged to protect and in some cases will enhance the environment.
Does this mean that the Cariboo folk paid him to present this? Will there be impacts? What is reasonable? A legal term I have often used to put the unwary on the wrong trail.
So what if there is a pledge? Too many mining companies have pledged and then gone away when the bill is due. What I want to know is how much will the BC government have to fix things if Taskeo goes away when the bill come due. Will this be another taxpayer funded cleanup and perpetual water treatment make-work project?
Then we have this amazing statement that is just ungrammatical and illogical, or at least un-understandable. The old issue: if they cannot write, can you revere (trust) their thought processes?
Dr. Erik Eberhardt, P.Eng retained by the Panel to provide his independent expert assessment, opinion and recommendations regarding the geotechnical issues concludes: Overall, it was found that the level of field data collected is of the quantity and quality typically expected for a “Feasibility” level design; The design and analyses carried out are thorough and follow standard open.
Maybe the mistake was made in the haste to get out the “good news.” Sum Tin Wong at work?
Actually the scariest report is this; what is the government doing saying such stuff:
Dr. Kwong, presented NRCan’s findings regarding geology and geochemistry for the New Prosperity proposed plan to the Panel on Friday July 27th. Dr. Kwong’s presentation made the following conclusions:
- Overall the proponents Acid Rock Drainage/ Metal Leaching assessment are comparable with current common practices
- NRCan does not predict significant adverse environmental impact to derive from ARD for the proposed Project, provided the proponent is diligent in carrying out all the committed monitoring and adopt appropriate adaptive management measures to prevent, mitigate, or treat any contaminated release
- Timely reporting and analysis of monitoring results to identify deteriorating trends is recommended as a requirement to advance the proposed project.
This is a masterful statement of nothing. Notice all the ifs & buts, provideds & timely reporting. Ah shit, it is all going wrong, but we are reporting on time!
Who says common practices are adequate? Seems to me they have failed so often in the past that the profession has something to answer for. The fact is they are clueless and cavalier. I was at a site the other day where an “expert” had recommended a procedure to stop ARD. The two old engineers I was with laughed and made sarcastic comments about the “expert’s” approach. There is dissension in the ranks. Let’s hear the debate.
Now I know I have been critical. I have been nasty. I will get much flack for this posting. My colleagues will upbraid me for ignorance. Taseko may rightly take me to task for frivolity & lack of depth. The profession will attack me for critiquing mining. There will, I hope, be many comments on this piece.
My only defence in anticipation of the storm this piece will provoke, is that as a blogger it is my duty to doubt, question, comment where others fear to, and hold the profession to the highest standards of practice.
For you see, I do not oppose mining. I have posted nearly 1,800 opinions over the past seven years on this blog. All support this thesis: we must mine; we can mine; but we must mine responsibly; and open debate is the best way to ensure mining is done to the benefit of all. And go to the Cannon Mine in Wenatchee if you doubt me that this can be done. I did it.