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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

There's Gold In Them Thar Glacier

Canadian mining company discovers a potentially rich gold vein near Glacier National Park, raising pollution concerns

Glacier National Park is known for vast natural resources, but they're usually of the wild and scenic kind. But a recent gold discovery just ten miles north of the park threatens to have miners salivating and nature lovers frothing at the mouth.

Max Resource Corp, a mining company based out of Canada, spent the summer drilling ore samples in the Crowsnest wilderness of British Columbia, and in the process found an unusually rich potential goldmine. (Most operational gold mines yield 2-3 grams of gold per ton of earth; these samples yield an average of 19 grams of gold per ton, and one section contained 50 grams per ton.)

Several Montana interests, including both U.S. senators, oppose industrial development in the Crownsnest area. Democrats Max Baucus and Jon Tester each sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, asking them to instate permanent protections for the headwaters of Glacier NP and the Flathead. Baucus and Tester also urged President Obama to discuss the issue with Canada, noting that a similar request for a pit coalmine in the area was rejected in 1985.

If Max Resource Corp. truly wants to begin mining, they'll have a fight on their hands: In 1995 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization declared Waterton Lakes NP and Glacier NP both World Heritage sites, and this past fall UNESCO began a study to determine if the area should be designated as a World Heritage site in danger.  According to UNESCO:
"Inscribing a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger allows the World Heritage Committee to allocate immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund to the endangered property. It also alerts the international community to these situations in the hope that it can join efforts to save these endangered sites. The listing of a site as World Heritage in Danger allows the conservation community to respond to specific preservation needs in an efficient manner. Indeed, the mere prospect of inscribing a site on this List often proves to be effective, and can incite rapid conservation action."
Despite the certain battles facing the mining company, Max Resource plans to continue sampling and moving forward with gold mining in 2010. Should we stop them? Let us know what think about mining near Glacier NP in the comment section below.

-Jordan Olmsted

Company Claims Rich Gold Find North Of Glacier National Park (Flathead Beacon via AP)
UNESCO: World Heritage in Danger
Photo Credit: Donnie Sexton/Travel Montana

ALL READERS COMMENTS

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Jessica
Dec 31, 2009

From my experience with the rivers in California, I feel everyone should be looking at what dredging and mining has done to California rivers and how the fish population has been affected and the answer, environmentally, should be a very clear No. They have stopped all gold mining in CA for a reason and to spoil a Wild and Scenic river, like Montana's Flathead, would be a colossal mistake. Gold or no gold...we have to protect what's left AND some of the most beautiful fish I have ever seen populate the Flathead...like they don't have enough trouble with climate change, let's not pollute their river!

Another Canadian
Dec 22, 2009

If this Gold was in the USA I can bet ten times over there would already be a mine there with a huge corporation much bigger than any small Canadian group backing it.

Brent
Dec 22, 2009

You can write to

Premier Gordon Campbell, Box 9041, Station Prov Gov, Victoria, BC, V8W 9E1

to tell him how you feel about it. I'm going to, this needs to stop.

Perry Clark
Dec 21, 2009

Not enough information provided in the article for much intelligent comment. The find seems more than rich enough to support the idea of mining it. That's about all that can be said, other than the obvious bits about leach pits, scars upon the earth, and so forth.

Note to those claiming gold has no industrial uses--you're way off base. Gold has very many industrial uses, actually, and there is no obvious alternative for some of them.

That all said, here's my take: Given the rapidly diminishing amount of unspoiled lands, I'm in favor of the idea of occasionally just leaving things alone. I simply do not agree that we need to squeeze every last drop of every last resource out of every last rock. To do so merely postpones the day of reckoning--what do we do when we're done? Well, I figure if we slow down the rate at which we're despoiling the earth, and permanently set aside some reserves, parks, and the like, at least we'll have something beautiful to look at when we run out of stuff to dig for, instead of an earth covered by pock-marks and scars.

But, my take on human nature also tells me I'm wasting my breath....

Doug Langenberg
Dec 21, 2009

There are apparently no "safe" or "environmentally friendly" ways to mine gold because of large scale earth extractions and processing, plus use of cyanide to extract the gold, and finally the need for large waste-water holding pits that must be completely contained so that they don't leach poisons into the ground and water systems. There are mines proposed both here and in the Bristol Bay headwaters in Alaska. It will take a concerted fight to stop either of them, so please write your congressmen and senators to alert them! The mines are all about the money, and do not take into account the value of the existing pristine environments that will be affected by mining!

ron
Dec 18, 2009

rather than dig for more gold in enviromentally protected areas, why not recycle gold , such as jewelry, held by people, kept in homes of gold buyers.Most people with the price of gold as high as it is now, could use the money they would receive from selling their gold.

nikki o'connor
Dec 18, 2009

this is sad but typical, we all know the miners will take over and ruin not only a great place for us to enjoy but also precious lands that the animals need to live up there.

Lindsey Brutus
Dec 17, 2009

Gold has no industrial use in this world and the only real use it has ever had in this world is for jewelry or as currency. Therefore to mine gold at the expense of our environment is ludicrous! After all, what is more beautiful; Glacier National Park or a piece of gold?

Anonymous
Dec 17, 2009

As a property owner in Galcier National Park's Apgar Village I am concerd by Max Resource Corp.'s discovery. I beleive that we have an obligation to ensure that this mining operation follows the law and the company is held accountable for the actions of its employees and leaders. I am not sure how this will affect the Flathead Rivers that surround Glacier but I am certain there is enough strength in our community to shut down any action that would affect this river system. If the statistics on the discovery are valid then there will be no stopping this group. The value of gold is soaring to ridicluous levels, especically given that is a rock. We live in a strange world! Please visit Glacier, get off the road and take a hike!!

ReBecca
Dec 17, 2009

The headline of this article is misleading, as there is no gold within the rocks of Glacier (I was the parks paleontologist and geologist in 2005). Mining outside of the park can harm the north fork of the Flathead river and increase the sediment loads it carries, which can affect the park, so this must be taken into consideration. I would prefer they did not mine at all, but if they do, it could be done in a manner safer for the surrounding environment (but it will be expensive, so they probably would not go that route).

sage
Dec 17, 2009

The Columbia river starts in Canada and flows through the United States. WE...WE have to share it, just a thought?.

Another View
Dec 17, 2009

Corporations are made up of people. Not all corporations are blind to the need for protecting the environment.Corporations also provide jobs for people and contribute to the local and federal economies through taxes. All mining is not evil if is done properly.

sage
Dec 17, 2009

This is in Canada true but will the every day small people get anything ($) from all this screwing up mother earth. NO! Only the RICH who don't care about us and our lands. Wake up it might be to late because we wait too late or say nothing at all.

Chris
Dec 17, 2009

Canadian- Potential environmental damage like this is everyone's business. We are citizens of the Earth and need to start behaving as such. As Mikw said this is an INTERNATIONAL PEACE PARK. Lets not let national pride get in the way of doing the right thing.

Chris
Dec 17, 2009

Canadian- Potential environmental damage like this is everyone's business. We are citizens of the Earth and need to start behaving as such. As Mikw said this is an INTERNATIONAL PEACE PARK. Lets not let national pride get in the way of doing the right thing.

Britt
Dec 17, 2009

We definitely need to stop this gold mining in such a sensitive and ecologically necessary area. The gold is not more precious than maintaining what's left of our wilderness areas and the numerous precious resources within.

Wolf
Dec 17, 2009

Dear Canadian...protecting the environment is not up to each country..it's up to all mankind..I'm sorry but if im your neighbor and you stop cleaning your apartment and I start smelling something weird it's my OBLIGATION to tell you something..even if it's your own apartment..

IAH Flyer
Dec 17, 2009

Paul Swaekauski,

The picture is of St. Mary Lake with Wild Goose Island in Glacier NP. Probably the most phototgraphed scene in Glacier.

I spent eight days in the backcountry in Glacier in September doing the Great Northern Loop.

IAH Flyer
Dec 17, 2009

The river does not "flow into the world's first international peace park." I don't see how this has a direct effect on Glacier NP, much less Waterton, which sits on the other side of the Continental Divide. If mining does commence, then the mining company needs to be held to the law to ensure that environmental degredation does not occur in the watershed.

We can't have a NIMBY attitude about all extractive industries. It is better if it is our friends to the north that we depend on for gold as opposed to some much less friendly countries.

And what do you think the environmental record is in China for extracting gold? In 2008, it was the largest producer of gold.

EB
Dec 17, 2009

It appears that everyone is assuming that mining will pollute and degrade the environment. Is it not possible to do it responsibly with little impact? Gold is a natural resouce too.

Paul Swaekauski
Dec 17, 2009

Theodore Roosevelt thought nothing of taking a situation into his own hands and pushing against industry and "his classes" interests. Where are the leaders today? This needs to be stopped.
It takes public action to get gov. to work!
(also: isn't the photo of Crater Lake?)

Jimw
Dec 17, 2009

Its all about greed. They see a different green - cash. They think the future can be fixed with the money they make now. Well, they've proven themselves wrong over the decades. Just look at the shape the world is in now. Oh, and Mr. "Canadian", your remark is ignorant. The problem has no borders, it will effect and affect all of us and our future generations.

james
Dec 17, 2009

Simple fact is that we are losing our natural treasures every day. unless this company can mine gold and keep the eniviroment intact then I say leave the place alone.

Dan
Dec 17, 2009

Are the "resources" in the US? Are the resources in the park? If not then the US government has no legitimate claim against mining. Last I checked, Canada is a sovereign nation and can make their own decisions. The US government and conservationists can only let their voices be heard.

Like it or not, gold fever has struck. The mining company as well as the Canadian government aren't likely to keep billions of dollars buried in the ground and out of tax coffers.

lisa jones
Dec 14, 2009

It has far reaching implications to Montanas, not only because clean water is a huge priority to our residents, but our 3 billion dollar tourism industry would be adversely affected. Why do they get to make money mining and degrading the environment while potentially lose our economic driver downstream? Remember, conservation is economic development in these parts.

Mikw
Dec 14, 2009

The fact is that British Columbia has an established track record of polluting international rivers (see Trail Smelter on Lake Roosevelt). This river flows into the world's first international peace park. Protecting it is the world's business.

carl
Dec 11, 2009

well if it is an international watershed, it is our business.

Canadian
Dec 11, 2009

If the mine is in Canada then the us should mind their own business

ryan clark
Dec 11, 2009

exactly whats wrong with big corporations. just want to make as much money as they can as fast as they can without any thought or respect to what comes in the future.

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