UPPER NAPPAN – A group concerned about possible gold mining near the Cumberland-Colchester border will hold a public information session at the Municipality of Cumberland County council chambers on Mar. 21.
“They’re going to come in and speak to council about the gold mining,” said Lynn Welton, councilor for District 5, which encompasses Wallace.
Welton says there has been interest in gold mining between Wentworth and Tatamagouche.
“DNR (Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources) is heading to a conference in Toronto (from March 4 to 7) and, apparently, they are going armed with RFPs (request for proposals) to give to companies that would be interested in doing some drilling,” said Welton.
The group will talk to council about the effects of gold mining on the local environment.
“There’s all kinds of things that can happen,” said Welton. “If there’s mercury in the soil, that can transfer into the water.
She’s also concerned about sulfuric acid and arsenic.
“It puts the Wallace River in danger of pollution. There’s a lot of fish up there and there’s a lot of fishing in that river,” said Welton. “It also puts the Tatamagouche watershed in danger.”
Welton says mining does create jobs but adds, ‘jobs aren’t as important as the long-term water supply.”
County council passed a motion last week to not issue drilling licenses until DNR held public information sessions detailing their proposals.
The motion comes on the heels of a public meeting held Feb. 10 at the Wentworth Recreation Centre where several speakers talked about the impact of logging and gold mining in the Wentworth area.
One of the speakers at the meeting, Yuill Hebert, of Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia, talked about the impact of gold mining on watersheds.
Hebert said that a study of the 27 mines that produce 93 per cent of the gold in the U.S. found that 74 per cent of those mines contaminated water, and in many cases drinking water.
“The other ones that didn’t contaminate the water were in arid areas where there was no water to contaminate,” said Hebert at the meeting. “So, basically, if you have a mine in an area where there’s water, it’s going to contaminate it in one way or another.”
He also talked about the production of toxic waste.
“Mining companies generate about 20 tons of toxic waste for every 0.33-ounce gold ring, so little gold ring gives you 20 tons (of toxic waste),” said Hebert.
“Twenty tons is quite a lot of material, and one of the challenges with that material is that it’s really hard to get rid of,” he added. “It’s basically around for 2,000 years. That material is stored in various ways and those ways are very vulnerable to accidents.”
Hebert also talked about how the water in Waverly Nova Scotia had been contaminated by gold mining.
The meeting got heated when a resident of Wentworth stood up to dispute several of Hebert’s talking points, including what he said about water contamination in Waverly.
While he was speaking, another person in the audience stood up and demanded who the man was and what his occupation was.
After the interruption, the man said, “Make sure you get the real facts before you make a decision. A lot this what I heard is true and a lot of it isn’t. I know that for a fact.”
Many in the crowd of close to 200 people applauded his comments.