Todd Sisson, a subsidiary of Todd Corporation of New Zealand, has once again bailed out Northcliff Resources by providing funds to Northcliff to fulfill some of the remaining 2017 Environmental Impact Assessment Conditions of Approval for its Sisson mine project.
The Sisson mine project is a controversial proposal by Northcliff to build a vast open pit tungsten and molybdenum mine in the Upper Nashwaak Watershed near Stanley. One of the major concerns for opponents of the mine is how Northcliff plans to store its huge amounts of waste, and how that waste could harm the Nashwaak watershed. The mine’s planned tailings dam and wet tailings storage facility is similar in specifications to the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley dam and wet tailings storage facility in British Columbia that failed in 2014, killing fish and other life in the Quesnel watershed.
The mine project has also been protested for sacrificing two fish-bearing brooks. In 2019, a coalition of Indigenous leaders, scientists and conservationists in New Brunswick joined forces to protest the Trudeau government’s move to allow the Sisson mine project to use two fish-bearing streams as dumping grounds for its toxic waste.
This latest loan enables Northcliff to advance the development of the wet tailings storage plan that has been soundly rejected as not adhering to “Best Available Practice” and “Best Available Technology” in the eight years since the Mount Polley tailing disaster. That New Brunswick still envisions accepting and facilitating construction of this environmental disaster in the making sadly reflects on the archaic mindset of successive Conservative and Liberal governments in the province.
The loan is also facilitated by the Trudeau government’s “Critical Metals” initiative and will undoubtedly provide the Higgs government with an excuse for granting yet another extension to Northcliff for meeting the EIA Conditions of Approval.
Given the timing of the loan and the caveat “subject to availability of vendors” the loan announcement appears oriented toward providing Higgs an excuse to grant this extension. The move will also facilitate the Trudeau and/or Higgs government’s granting of taxpayer funds to this moribund four-penny stock.
The province is operating on a ten-year-old outdated “Economic Feasibility Study” whose assumptions about operating costs have been shown to have no relationship to reality following the utter failure of Todd’s much richer Drakelands Tungsten Mine in Plymouth, UK, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2018 after losing $100 million.
Any eventual development of the Sisson Mine is bound for economic failure and destruction of the Nashwaak. No amount of bonding for Reclamation and Water Treatment will be sufficient to cover the decades to centuries of oozing toxic emissions when this mine fails.
The Higgs government was careful to exclude the Sisson area from any community control by carving out the Upper Nashwaak from the boundaries of the newly-created Nashwaak Rural Community. Thus the Nashwaak community that will directly suffer the social and environmental consequences of destruction of the pristine Nashwaak Watershed will have no say in the mine’s regulation.
The saga that is Sisson drags on.
Lawrence Wuest is an ecologist living in the Upper Nashwaak on unceded territory of the Wəlastəkwiyik, Mi’kmaq, and Peskotomuhkati.