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Concerns about gold mining on the Eastern Shore



THE controversial proposed gold mine at Moose River, NS was the hot topic at recent meetings in four Eastern Shore communities at the end of September and beginning of October.

The meetings were held in Tangier, Musquodoboit Harbour, Middle Musquodoboit, and the Oyster Pond Fire Hall. Each featured a slide show and discussion about gold mining, focusing on the concerns of Eastern Shore communities.

The public meetings were held in anticipation of DDV Gold Ltd., a subsidiary of Atlantic Gold Ltd., submitting more information about its plan as required by the Dept. of Environment and Labour.

In March DDV Gold filed an Environmental Assessment with the province for an open pit gold mine on the site of the settlement of Moose River Gold Mines. The mine site, about 265 ha (655 acres) would include all the existing dwellings, as well as the museum and the provincial park marking the Moose River Mine Disaster of 1936. The museum and park would be moved and the dwellings destroyed.

In the two weeks allowed for public input on the Environmental Assessment, the Department of Environment received 127 com-ments, of which 124 were either opposed to the project or highly critical of some aspect of planning.

As a result of the public outcry, Minister Mark Parent called for more information from Atlantic Gold, to be filed as a Focus Report. Atlantic Gold has indicated that the Focus Report was to be ready in September.

Resistance to gold mining has been growing on the Eastern Shore.

"There are a lot of problems with the plan," says Barbara Markovits, of Eastern Shore Forest Watch, which organized the meetings.

"They want to dig a pit at Moose River deeper than the Bedford basin. And they want to do it at the headwaters of the Fish River watershed, which supplies lakes and rivers flowing down to the ocean on the Eastern Shore. The Tangier River watershed, which supplies the Tangier-Grand Lake Wilderness Area, is also at risk. Geologists tell us that any time you expose bedrock in Nova Scotia you risk disturbing arseno-pyrites (arsenic), sulphides and other minerals that occur naturally. When those minerals are exposed to air and water they can leach into waterways, resulting in arsenic contamination and acid water. These are detrimental to aquatic life, particularly fish, and also to people. Wells in several communities could also be at risk for contamination, particularly in Lake Charlotte, Upper Lakeville, Beech Hill and Ship Harbour.

"We have lobster pounds, an oyster farm, and eco-tourism businesses, all dependent on clean water," she adds. Large quantities of cyanide are used in processing gold is also a concern, as well as other toxic chemicals and explosives which would be transported along rough country roads.

"We have met with DDV Gold, and asked many questions," says Markovits. "Their answers have not lessened our concerns. The risk to human and environmental health is largely downstream from the project, where we live. Our communities deserve to know the issues and to decide whether it's worth the risk."

The group's website is www.forestwatch.ca
Contacts Barbara Markovits, Eastern Shore Forest Watch, 845-2620
Messages: 902.889.2629
Patricia Egli, Eastern Shore Forest Watch, 456-7360
forestwatches@yahoo.ca


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