Only days after the Province of B.C. issued an Environmental Assessment Certificate for the Cariboo Gold Project, Wells residents are experiencing persistent and widespread industrial noise from a newly-activated mine portal ventilation system on a mountain overlooking the town. The whining sound is audible in every corner of Wells, causing aggravation to many residents, and worry about what’s to come.
While the mine proponent, Osisko Development of Quebec has a pre-existing exploration permit for the underground mine portal, this current development will also be included into the future mine plan. If those other mining permits are approved, this fan would be just the first of six ventilators established in an arc on the hillsides above the community, creating an industrial work camp environment.
Complaints about the current, relentless 24/7 noise from just one fan, which some residents can hear inside their homes, have already gone to the District of Wells as a violation of the municipal noise bylaw. Concerns have also been raised with Northern Health and the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). The EAO recommended approval of the project subject to conditions which this fan would meet. An environmental certificate allowing the mine to proceed was approved by Mines Minister Josie Osborne and Environment Minister George Heyman on October 10, 2023.
"This really underscores concerns about the effectiveness of Osisko’s proposed mitigation methodology,” says Mining Watch Canada National Program Co-Lead Jamie Kneen. “While some urban dwellers might consider the noise not that loud, it’s penetrating and constant in a place where the EAO considered 'Loss of peaceful enjoyment of Wells' as an ‘adverse effect’ to be mitigated. Accordingly, the current noise is already problematic, but more importantly, it foreshadows what the real impacts of a fully operational mine site will be.”
Plan B for Better, which the local Friends of Responsible Economic Development (FRED) promote, would have this portal site moved to Osisko’s Bonanza Ledge operation behind Cow mountain. A second ventilator is also already running at that site with zero community impact. FRED maintains there is also plenty of room at that existing mine site for the massive Services Building/concentrator, given it is twice the size of the proposed undisturbed site in Wells.
A member of the Community Advisory Committee member, Judy Campbell, notes, “Osisko has conveniently demonstrated the complete failure of the Environmental Assessment process to protect humans and wildlife, and lack of consideration for a process to consider an alternative that would protect both.”
For more information, contact:
- Dave Jorgenson - Director, Friends of Responsible Economic Development in Wells, (250) 991-6250
- Jamie Kneen - Mining Watch Canada, [email protected], (613) 761-2273
Image: Cariboo Gold Project Proposed Vent Location map – Wells, BC