Before the dust had even settled on the Mount Polley Mine disaster, owner Imperial Metals was active again in Clayoquot Sound. This finding was published in Who’s Knocking?, a report on mineral tenures in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The report, by Clayoquot Action in partnership with the Fair Mining Collaborative, details who is looking for minerals in Clayoquot Sound, and what types of minerals they are looking for.
The study found that 5.8% of Clayoquot Sound is under some form of mineral title, with a total of 257 claims held by 23 licensees. As recently as 2010, 24.5% of the region was under mineral tenure—the area staked has fallen due to the low price of minerals. This highlights the ‘boom and bust’ nature of the mining industry. Claim staking will likely increase again when metal prices rebound. Minerals sought after include gold, silver, and copper.
One thing that pops right out is that Imperial Metals is the biggest player in Clayoquot Sound. The same company responsible for the Mount Polley Mine disaster is considering developing two mines, right near Ahousat, Opitsat and Tofino.
Imperial Metals has completed an exploration drilling program on Catface Mountain in Ahousaht First Nations territory, and was up there as recently as December 2014. The BC government has also granted Imperial Metals exploration permits for the Fandora gold mine in Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations territory.
In response to Imperial’s Fandora permits Tla-o-qui-aht member Tsimka Martin said “Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations have not given permission for Imperial Metals to be operating in any way within Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory. The vision for healthy Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks is one that is mine-free”. Tsimka is also a member of FNWARM—First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining.
Who’s Knocking? is a first step in gathering the information necessary to start meaningful dialogue about mining in Clayoquot Sound, and will help local communities understand who has an interest in the land, what they are looking for, and how serious they are about developing mines.