An open letter to New Brunswick Premier David Alward and Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup.
I wish to alert you to a threat to the future of mineral exploration and mining in this province. The public is rapidly losing confidence in the industry because of the plights of many fellow New Brunswickers being ignored by both industry and the government.
The NB Commissioner of Mines is presently holding hearings in Sussex where some sixty householders and farmers from Penobsquis have been forced to submit a case against Potash Corporation to redress the following two complaints:
One, they have lost water to their homes and farms and are convinced it is due to draw down of ground water caused by dramatic flooding continuous over several years to the present in the potash mine.
Two, many of their buildings have suffered structural damage which they link to ground subsidence caused by the mining operations underneath them.
The amount and rate of subsidence over and near the mine workings has been measured by surveying. This monitoring has revealed a zone of maximum subsidence directly over the mining operations which extend for several kilometers under the old Trans Canada Highway from the mine site to the turn off to Alma (Rte 114).
The spectacle of watching the Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis left to fend for themselves and the parallel public outrage over shale gas exploration, the government’s near give away royalty agreements, tacit approval of the environmental impact of shale gas “Fracking” and extraction techniques intended for export and the accompanying overall green house gas emissions comparable to that of coal burning (A. Ingraffia et al, 2011) reveals an apparent cynical disregard for the public interest.
The upshot of this perceived lack of fair play by the Dept. of Natural Resources and Energy, the Potash Corporation and the Shale Gas Exploration Industry will be to create a hostile climate for exploration and tar all mining activities with the same brush resulting in industry to either abandon the province or stay and operate in an unfriendly social climate.
The government to regain credibility must make corporate interests subsidiary to the public interest, ensure a just settlement with the citizens of Penobsquis and declare a moratorium on shale gas exploration.