According to an engineering report filed with the Manitoba government on August 30, an underground mine is on the verge of collapse under Bernic Lake in eastern Manitoba between Whiteshell and Nopiming Provincial Parks. The Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Ltd. (TANCO) Mine is owned by Cabot Corporation.
The document explains that pillars supporting the roof of the mine have been mined to remove remnant ore, stating: "the mine reduced the pillar width from 15 m down to 7.5 m. This, in essence, reduced the strength of these pillars".
TANCO has applied for environmental permits to dam and drain the lake above the mine, in order to relieve pressure on the pillars so they can continue mining.
"Reading this report, I was shocked to see how risky and dangerous this situation has become," said Eric Reder, Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee.
In their Environment Act Proposal, TANCO says there are only two options - dam and drain Bernic Lake, sending water with elevated levels of heavy metals through the wetlands into the Bird River, or have Bernic Lake collapse into the mine and cause greater contamination to the lake. The Bird River flows into the Winnipeg River, and then into Lake Winnipeg.
The Wilderness Committee is calling for the Manitoba government's Conservation and Water Stewardship branch to take over operations to mitigate this environmental catastrophe.
View September 13, 2013 Wildnerness Committee article
View March 13, 2013 Winnipeg Sun article
View TANCO company profile