Western Nunavut gold miner pleads guilty to Fisheries Act violation
Discharge went unreported due to an “administrative error,” says TMAC’s VP of corporate social responsibility
CAMBRIDGE BAY—TMAC Resources Inc., which operates the Hope Bay gold mine about 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay, must pay a $50,000 fine for the unauthorized discharge of effluent into a nearby creek.
TMAC, which pleaded guilty to violating a regulation under the Fisheries Act, was ordered to pay the fine on Oct. 2 at a hearing in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
The money will go into the federal Environmental Damages Fund, which ensures court-awarded penalties support projects with positive environmental impacts.
“It’s not good,” said Alex Buchan, TMAC’s vice-president of corporate social responsibility, of the conviction.
As a result of the infraction, TMAC will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry. The company is appealing that decision.
Buchan said the failure to report the discharge of effluent to Environment and Climate Change Canada had been an “administrative error.” And he maintains that the discharged water was not polluted.
TMAC, whose mine was not yet in production when the discharge took place, reported the discharge to the Nunavut Water Board under the terms of its licence, he said.
But staff neglected to report the discharge to Environment Canada, he said.
The charge against TMAC came after Environment Canada enforcement officers launched an investigation. This revealed that TMAC had deposited effluent “containing a deleterious substance” into Doris Creek at the mine site without meeting regulatory requirements, a news release from Environment Canada said.
At the time of the discharge, the mine was not yet in production and no tailings had yet been produced, said Buchan.
The Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations authorize deposits of effluent, provided the conditions stipulated in the regulations are observed.
Environment Canada said these requirements include collecting and testing samples and reporting results.
“TMAC Resources Inc. failed to meet all of these conditions and was not authorized to discharge effluent from the site,” said the release.