May 24, 2024

US to investigate contamination of US waters from coal mines in British Columbia, Canada – March 11, 2024 at 9:56 pm

Canada and the United States have agreed to review a long-running transboundary dispute over pollution flowing into US waters from coal mines in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Both countries announced this on Monday.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement issued by US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen and his Canadian counterpart, Kirsten Hillman. The US and Canadian governments are working with British Columbia, the US states of Idaho and Montana, and six indigenous communities on both sides.

Canada and the United States have asked the International Joint Commission to establish a formal governing body by June 30 to develop options for the future, according to a joint statement. The IJC is a treaty-based body that mediates water disputes.

It said the two countries had asked the IJC to “establish a two-year study group to bring together experts and knowledge holders to conduct transparent and coordinated cross-border data and knowledge exchange”.

The research team is working on finding ways to reduce pollution from coal mines in British Columbia's Elk Valley, which flows into Lake Cooganooza, a reservoir in British Columbia and Montana, and American rivers.

The measures will help “understand the impacts of pollution and take action to reduce and mitigate them,” the US-Canada joint statement said.

A recent U.S. Geological Survey study cited by CBC News says the pollution comes from mines in British Columbia and that efforts by Canadian mining company Teck Resources to slow those releases have had little effect on the amount flowing south.

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Teck Resources said it is looking forward to hearing more about Monday's announcement from the US and Canada. The company will work with the affected parties and pursue a project to improve water quality in the region.

Teck said last month that it aims to complete the sale of the steel coal unit to Glencore after the third quarter of 2024.

Glencore-led consortium Teck Resources' $9 billion bid for its steel coal unit has faced criticism in the US and Canada over water contamination from the mines.