Could a proposed lead-zinc mine impact the Adams River Sockeye run?

Could a proposed lead-zinc mine near the Adams River have a disastrous effect on the Adams River salmon run? Some activists fear it could.

By Ana Pollo

A proposed lead-zinc mine between the pristine headwaters of Ruddock and Oliver Creeks about 100 km north of Revelstoke and 155 km northeast of Kamloops could threaten the world’s largest Sockeye salmon run on the Adams River.

Imperial Metals Corporation’s subsidiary, Selkirk Metals Corp., wants to mine lead-zinc ore in an area that is treasured by many who have visited it, including the Secwepemc people who use the land and its pristine waters to this day.

This map shows the location of approximate location of a lead-zinc mine near the headwaters of the Adams River. Click on the image to see it at full size.

Lead-zinc mines typically produce a stew of toxic waste products that end up in in tailing impounds. Lead, useful in a limited way, has been long known for its degenerative effects on the brain and cognitive functions will now be introduced to the fragile watershed. So will zinc which in moderation is good for humans but in industrial quantities becomes harmful to life.

According to the government-industry website, mining, metals and metal finishing waste often include hazardous substances.

“Mining and metal operations commonly use hazardous chemicals, and sometimes naturally occurring toxic substances are released into the environment during operations and the disposal of waste materials,” the website says.

“Most of the hazardous wastes in the metals sector can be solids, gases, liquids, or semi-liquids like mining sludge and drilling mud. Most of the hazardous wastes in this sector are liquids or semi- liquids, but a wide variety of waste materials used in the sector may be viewed as hazardous.”

Hazardous wastes are a major issue for the mining and mineral smelting industry. Just this week Teck Resources formally admitted to polluting the Columbia River which was an important issue for communities along the American portion of the river.

By itself, lead is a well-known toxic substance that has significant effects on human health.

Although the Ruddock Creek flows into Lake Revelstoke and Oliver Creek flows into upper Adams River and Lake through to the Thompson and Fraser Rivers and of course, ultimately the ocean. Located on Secwepemc territory this site is host for the gathering of many waters before they pass into innumerable more streams, creeks, lake, rivers, soils and beings. The Secwepemc use this site and surrounding land for hunting, fishing, berry and medicine harvesting.

It is hard to say if this mine would be approved after an environmental assessment if Bill C-38 (click here to read rough guide to the bill) had not passed. A bill that seriously changes the Fisheries Act could well have a major impact on the Adams River Sockeye Salmon spawning run.

To be fair to Imperial Metals, they have told the federal government that surveys along Ruddock and Oliver Creeks showed that fish populations would not be impacted by the project. Click here to view reports to the federal government’s Major Projects Management Office (for additional information click where it asks if you’d like to know more and then browse around through the available reports).

It appears to me this site does have obvious aboriginal value as well as environmental value which is apparently not worth mentioning in the Harper cabinet’s new bill.

Our natural resources are no longer seen by the government as being of enormous long-term value but simply rather as a massive piggy bank we must shatter to reap the short-term profits. One thing is clear, if our government is truly interested in long-term prosperity why then are so many decades-old environmental laws being amended or thrown out through Bill C-38?

Now the Harper cabinet has final say on all industrial projects that would otherwise never been approved by previous environmental law. Bill C-38 beyond being an obvious attack on our environment, meddles with many services and laws that help seniors, unemployment insurance beneficiaries, low income households and much more.

There are online petitions to have this bill repealed. There is an online petition made by the affected natives to oppose the Ruddock creek mining project. Click here to access it. can be found by searching “protect our sacred headwater.” Printed petitions are available at the Farmer’s market and in many local shops.

Click here to go to Imperial Metals’ website.