Teck Elk Valley mines waste rock

A metallurgical mess: why Teck Resources is facing pushback over its latest mine proposal

In this week’s newsletter, we look at Teck’s plan to massively expand an Elk Valley mine even as it fails to limit selenium pollution to meet B.C.’s guidelines

This is the web version of The Narwhal’s newsletter. Go here to sign up.

Remember that fish population crash in the Elk Valley?

In April, we reported that a Teck Resources presentation revealed a 93 per cent decline in the westslope cutthroat trout population just downstream of its Fording River mine, the largest mine in British Columbia.

Since 2014, Teck has been warned about increasing selenium pollution emanating from the company’s five Elk Valley mines.

More specifically, Teck was warned that if something wasn’t done to limit selenium pollution in the Elk Valley, there would be “a total population collapse of sensitive species like the westslope cutthroat trout.”

On the heels of that population crash, Teck is proposing to massively expand the Fording River mine even though it admits it will not be able to limit selenium pollution to meet the province’s guidelines. 

New title

Get The Narwhal in your inbox!

People always tell us they love our newsletter. Find out yourself with a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism

Reporting from the heart of the Elk Valley, Paul Fischer explains that the Castle Mountain project would expand the footprint of Teck’s 20,000-hectare Fording River mine by an additional 2,500 hectares.

This comes at a time when international criticism is being levelled at the company’s selenium problem — which is now being drawn through a shared watershed into Montana.

The proposed expansion has drawn the ire of 22 American and Canadian researchers who say Teck’s Elk Valley mines are a symbol of Canada’s failure to incorporate “transparent, independent and peer-reviewed science” in their decision-making process.

Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has jumped into the fray, calling out the B.C. government for a lack of data and transparency when it comes to Teck’s pollution in the transboundary waterway.

As this controversy stews, Teck says the expansion will ensure its largest operation, responsible for about one-third of its Elk Valley metallurgical coal production (used to make steel), can keep employing locals for decades to come.

All these developments make you want to add your voice? B.C.’s public comment period on the project is open until June 22.

Stay well and don’t kill the fish,

Arik Ligeti
Audience Engagement Editor

Note from a Narwhal

“It’s so important that critical, independent journalism stays alive and well in Canada. Thank you for your amazing reporting. I appreciate it!” — Melissa, a new Narwhal member. We appreciate you!

Help us keep independent journalism alive and well by becoming a monthly member of The Narwhal today.

This week in The Narwhal

Teck proposal to expand B.C.’s largest coal mine raises alarm about pollution on both sides of border

Teck Elk Valley Fording River Castle Mine Expansion

By Paul Fischer

The Castle Mountain expansion would extend the life of the company’s Fording River operations, where the recent collapse of a trout population is drawing international criticism about selenium pollution emanating from existing mines. Read more.  

Who tells the story of the present? Candis Callison on redefining journalism in Canada

Candis Callison journalism race Canada

By Carol Linnitt

Newsrooms across the continent are in a state of upheaval as publications deal with the role journalism plays in systemic racism, colonialism and state-sanctioned violence. We connect with a media scholar on what this moment of reckoning means. Read more.  

Coastal erosion on Yukon’s only Arctic island exposes looming climate threat

Herschel Island permafrost thaw

By Julien Gignac

‘The magnitude of change is enormous’: researchers track coastline of Herschel Island for a better understanding of how permafrost loss to seawater could contribute to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Read more

Alberta and South Korea’s pensions just bought the Coastal GasLink pipeline: 8 things you need to know

Coastal Gaslink Pipeine pension investment

By Zoë Yunker

In a make-or-break deal for the embattled pipeline, pension managers AIMCo and KKR take on a huge risk that could affect millions of individuals’ retirement savings. Read more

B.C. mine proposed in critical caribou habitat shows how endangered species ‘fall through the cracks’

Caribou B.C. environmental assessments

By Jimmy Thomson

If the newly proposed Sukunka coal mine follows the same trajectory as nearly every project reviewed under the province’s environmental assessment process, it will be approved even if it is found to have harmful effects on caribou. Read more

What we’re reading

Stay happy, stay healthy and kiss your loved ones — then get them to sign up for our newsletter.

New title

You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired five journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 3,300 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

We’ve drafted a plan to make 2021 our biggest year yet, but we need your support to make it all happen.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

Finding the Mother Tree: ecologist Suzanne Simard offers solutions to B.C.’s forest woes

Everything in an ecosystem is connected. A tiny sapling relies on a towering ancient tree, just like a newborn baby depends on its mother. And...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Help power our ad-free, non‑profit journalism
The Narwhal is coming to Ontario!

We’re on the verge of launching an Ontario bureau. Stay in the know by signing up for a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism.