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Taku Tlingit pull reps from Tulsequah road process

Posted: August 13, 2012 - 12:03am

Prospects for road access to Chieftain Metals’ Tulsequah Chief Mine dimmed as right-of-way owners Taku River Tlingit First Nation stepped away from an environmental assessment process.

Citing concern over Chieftain’s inadequate planning, difficulty meeting deadlines and the closure of the mine’s water treatment facility (goo.gl/aRNB0), TRTFN said it has pulled back from the road access process (goo.gl/FGtpq) until several questions have been answered.

TRTFN informed British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (goo.gl/Uft2z) and Chieftain Metals that the first nation planned to pull its technical teams from the Environmental Assessment Office and Northwest Mine Development Review Committee tables on July 16, 2012.

“…due to a combination of critical issues…,” according to a release on TRTFN’s website (goo.gl/1tdU0).

Chieftain’s amended Environmental Assessment application to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office is of “poor quality” and the mining company’s construction plans and start-up activities are delayed — two reasons for TRTFN’s reluctance, according to its web release.

TRTFN has remained engaged in the processes despite the process being “well behind schedule,” according to the release. “However, in light of recent developments, there are simply too many breaches, gaps and questions around the viability of the currently proposed Tulsequah Project for TRTFN to continue on as though we are meaningfully meeting the requirements set out in the agreements and legislation,” according to TRTFN's web release.

Chieftain announced in June that it would shut down indefinitely operation of its water treatment plant at the Tulsequah Chief Mine (goo.gl/9293J). The plant was built to treat historic acid mine runoff. This indefinite closure “is of extreme concern to the TRTFN,” according to its web release.

Chieftain received a discharge permit for its treatment facility in April (goo.gl/Ma2Yg) and announced it would violate that permit less than three months later.

TRTFN list the water treatment facility’s shutdown as another reason to cool its relationship with Chieftain.

Chieftain has said its investors require road access to the Tulsequah Chief Mine site, preferring the mining operation not rely on spotty barge access on the Taku River.

Chieftain Metals contracted from Stantec Consulting Ltd. of British Columbia to complete a construction and operations activities report application to amend British Columbia Environmental Assessment Certificate M02-01, dated June 6. According to the report Chieftain planned to begin road construction in late 2012 or early 2013.

In the last three months Chieftain has dropped from over $4 per share to close Friday at $2.60. The 52-week high was $5.14.

Chieftain Metals did not respond by press time.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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