Fresh on the heels of last year’s announcement of a new peat mine proposal in Hecla / Grindstone Provincial Park, the Manitoba government has allowed Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company (Hudbay) to begin construction on a copper mine operation in Grass River Provincial Park.
This authorization is an affront to Manitobans, and yet another assault on our parks—the natural wilderness areas we hold dear. Over the last few years, Manitobans have stated time and again that they want industrial activities out of our parks. Now we need the Manitoba government to listen to citizens and act accordingly.
Problems with the environmental licensing public comment process continue with this project, as the mine proposal was only delivered to the public registry library on January 22, 2013—more than a month after the public comment period was started. The current deadline for comment is February 19, 2013.
The site for this new mine has already been bulldozed and infrastructure put in place before the public comment period even started, as the government quietly authorized an advanced exploration project. The impact of this project, even if it were to be stopped, would still be seen in the park for the next half century. This is one more indication of the Manitoba government’s failure to properly implement the public input component of the environmental licensing process.
Even worse, the mine is in the heart of critical woodland caribou habitat, a species listed under both the federal and provincial endangered species acts as threatened. The project is located in the “Naosap” range, which the Manitoba government lists as one of the three most high-risk caribou herds in the province, and which the Canadian government lists as not self-sustaining. For decades, the Manitoba government has recorded caribou migration through this region, as the threatened animals move from wintering grounds onto the isolated islands on Reed Lake, where they give birth.
The strongest condemnation of this project is the toxic legacy that Hudbay and this government have allowed in Grass River Provincial Park from the previous mine at Spruce Point. The government and Hudbay both trumpet the rehabilitation of the site, yet a video recorded by the Wilderness Committee shows dangerous lingering toxic destruction on the site.
Take action today by submitting a public comment to the provincial government, and say "No!" to the new Reed Mine. The deadline for comment is February 19, so please write today!