The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

AMAX Gets Preliminary OK to Dump Tailings

Good news for American Metals Climax's (AM AX) molybdenum mine in British Columbia means bad news for local Indians and environmentalists. A Canadian government panel released an interim report in early May tentatively approving the mine's operation and upholding a special permit which allows AMAX to deposit up to 100 million metric tons of mine tailings into Alice Arm, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, over the next 25 years. (See Multinational Monitor, March, 1981). The panel will release a final report in July after monitoring the mine since mid-April.

The Nishga Indians fish in Alice Arm and depend on their catch for both food and trade. Environmentalists claim that the tailings, which are slightly radioactive, will damage plant and fish life in Alice Arm.

At a May 5 meeting, shareholders voted down a resolution to suspend the dumping pending further environmental enquiry. The Nishga representatives and environmentalists attending the meeting did, however, manage to obtain more than 5 percent shareholder approval for their resolution. As the shareholders were voting, a plugged pipe caused excess tailings to spill into Alice Arm, thereby exceeding the daily deposit allowance.

Reiterating AMAX's belief in the environmental safety of the mine, AMAX spokesperson Nelson Fugate said, "It's going to take a little de-bugging on our part," to make sure the spill does not recur.

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