The prospect of hardrock mining in British Columbia's scenic Flathead River Valley has long concerned groups dedicated to preserving the region's pristine landscape. A new gold discovery by the Canadian firm MAX Resource has raised the stakes yet again. Photo courtesy of Harvey Locke.
A Canadian mining company's discovery last week of high-grade gold deposits north of Glacier National Park has raised alarm among environmentalists that development of the deposits could imperil Montana's Flathead River Valley and fragment North America's most prized grizzly habitat.
The discovery of the gold deposits by MAX Resource Corp. of Vancouver, about 10 miles northwest of the park boundary in British Columbia, is the latest volley in a 30-year debate over development of the Flathead River Valley, a 1-million-acre watershed spanning the U.S.-Canada border and including much of Glacier park and Flathead National Forest.
Stuart Rogers, president of MAX Resource, said concerns over the discovery are premature and that if the company ever developed the site, it would use underground rather than open-pit mining techniques.
Moreover, Rogers said, any mining proposal would be subject to the British Columbia government's extensive regulatory review process and would have to meet a "zero discharge" requirement for the Flathead River and its tributaries.
But critics argue that is not enough. They want a moratorium on all industrial development in the region, home to North America's largest concentration of grizzly bears and other iconic species.