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Mining Operations in Whiteshell Park?

Please check back here regularly for updates. (Last Updated May 8, 2022)

Prepared by Doug Collicutt, Star Lake cottager for 30 years.

This page has been viewed nearly 700 times in the last month! Please forward this page link to your friends and contacts. This is not just a NIMBY issue for Star Lake cottagers. All Manitobans need to be aware of what's going on in OUR Provincial Parks!

(Sorry if this page is getting messy and long, but I'm trying to keep all this issue together in one place.)

Star Very SmallApril 21, 2022 Update - meeting with Whiteshell Cottagers Association (WCA), WCA AGM and response from Director of Parks to my Feb. 28 email.

Star Very SmallNew Nopiming Park Mining Video!
A new video posted by the Wilderness Committee Apr. 13, 2022. More on the situation in Nopiming below. Star Lakers aren't the only ones upset about mining in Provincial Parks.

April 10, 2022 Update! - Whiteshell Cottagers Association AGM.

April 4, 2022 Important Update! - See what "mineral exploration (with bulldozers)" did.


Star Very SmallThe current government has re-opened our provincial parks to commercial mining.Star Very Small

Does a mine belong in the heart of cottage-country in south Whiteshell Park? (see map below) Currently an Ontario company is conducting "mineral exploration" less than 1 km south of Star Lake cottages. South Whiteshell contains more than 1000 cottages, several major campgrounds and public beaches, and this area of exploration is smack in the middle of this prime recreational region. Star Lake cottagers are strongly opposed to this operation. Please read the information below and get ready to help us defeat mining in Whiteshell Park!

Are our Parks for People or Profit?

Star Very SmallPlease forward this "Mining in our Backyard" information to your friends and contacts. I think all Manitobans should know that our government has hung out the "Open for Mining" sign on our provincial parks, even using tax dollars to promote it: Mineral Development Fund.Star Very Small

Opportunity for Canadian mining sector - a CBC article on how even the Federal government is funding mineral exploration. In remote areas - OK. In parks next to cottages - Not OK. Again, I hope our tax dollars aren't funding this at Star Lake.


Star Very SmallA quote from the Park Master Plan on the Whiteshell Park website: (Park Management Plan)

"Specific applications for small-scale mineral exploration may be approved if it can be shown that the 'need to know' outweighs other considerations. Such operations would be subject to specific terms and conditions; approval of exploration would not infer approval of a mining operation. Proposals for the development of mineral resources will only be approved when it can be demonstrated that the benefits far exceed potential loss of inherent values in the zone." (This certainly applies to us!)Star Very Small


Star Very SmallAs a Whiteshell cottager I am deeply concerned that local Star Lake residents and cottagers were not informed, before mineral exploration just south of Star Lake was permitted by Parks Branch. This effort to potentially re-open the long decommissioned mines in the area could have major impacts on all our recreational experiences if our government opts to allow commercial mining in OUR PARK so close to cottages, homes, campgrounds and beaches.

In a brief meeting with Parks, April 11, it was brought to my attention that the Whiteshell Cottagers Association WAS apprised of the request for a permit for mineral exploration near Star Lake last fall!

However there doesn't seem to have been an attempt by the WCA to let local residents and cottagers know of this. WCA, you need to improve communication on issues like this! Unfortunately, Parks did not feel it necessary to inform local cottagers directly either.

In the fall of 2020 we had to fight to have Parks' CLISS proposal rejected. All the same reasons we opposed that proposal can be applied to this activity in OUR BACKYARD. I hope you'll read the information below and pass it on to anyone you think may be interested.Star Very Small

Star Very SmallHere's a map of the area in questionMining Map

Click the image for the 9 mb JPG file.

(Though it is referred to as the "West Hawk Lake property" it is actually located south of Star Lake in the heart of cottage-country in the south end of Whiteshell Provincial Park.)

Star Lake cottagers are worried about the environmental and recreational impacts of such activities in OUR BACKYARD. If you are concerned about this potential development please contact:

Joanne Podolchuk, Park Specialist
Manitoba Parks Environment, Climate and Parks
Box 4000 Lac du Bonnet, MB R0E 1A0
T 204-792-3503 F 204-345-1415

Email: Joanne Podolchuk, Park Specialist

Star Very SmallTo All Park Users: Mining operations in south Whiteshell will degrade the park experience for all cottagers, campers and day-users not just those at Star Lake. Please speak out on this issue before it's too late. Please forward or cc any emails/letters sent to the Park Specialist (above) to me (Doug C, Star Lake Cottagers ) so I may keep a record of all contacts made to Parks. If you would like your comments posted here mention that in your correspondence. Thanks!


April 21, 2022 Update - meeting with Whiteshell Cottagers Association (WCA), WCA AGM and response from Director of Parks to my Feb. 28 email.

April 10, 2022 Update! - Whiteshell Cottagers Association AGM.

April 4, 2022 Important Update! - See what "mineral exploration (with bulldozers)" did.

March 26, 2022 Update below

March 21, 2022 Update below. More information and some thoughts.

February Update


April 21, 2022 Update:

Notes from my meeting with Whiteshell Cottagers Association (WCA) presidents (current - Ian Baragar and now past - Kerry Davies) on April 19:

The WCA was apprised of Parks' issuance of a permit for mineral exploration near Star Lake in autumn of 2021. NOTE: The permit had already been issued prior to the WCA being informed. And for whatever reason the WCA made no attempt to pass this along to Star Lake cottagers. Though I am a strong supporter of the WCA, it's clear that communication regarding local issues like this must be improved. And, if it was OK to tell the WCA, why not Star Lake residents and cottagers as well?

It was suggested that, in such cases involving private companies, Parks may be legally bound to keep such commercial activities in Parks out of public view as much as possible. Privacy and professional/competitive confidentiality issues may be partly to blame for the secrecy around such issues? That is understandable, but still disconcerting. We need transparency regarding all issues in our park.

WCA had met with Parks prior to this meeting. It was stated that the current exploration permit had expired at the end of March, 2022, that no additional permit applications had been made to that point and that Parks was not expecting another application at this time? (I will contact Parks to confirm this.) Does this mean that initial exploration suggests no further exploration or development is warranted? Or just that any further activities would not proceed until next winter? I will dig around to see if we can gain access to the company's report on the initial exploration, it may be public record somewhere (link below popped up as I was writing this!).

Star Very SmallThis just in from the Mcfarlane Lake Mining web site: Early Drill Results Intersect High Grade Gold - not good news! We need to be kept informed of this issue as it progresses. Parks has stated that there must be public review of any proposed developments. Anyone have any mining expertise to tell if this report indicates a site worth developing?

[On a personal note, I don't blame companies for trying to make a buck, obeying the rules, operating within the laws, even taking advantage of government incentives. I blame our government for not acting to change the rules in order to protect our parks. On the mining issue it seems our parks are still being operated on 1960's era regulations.

Has anyone thought about the tourism impact of allowing mining in parks? I can see the ads now: "Come enjoy nature in our Provincial Parks, see real live mining in action!" Times have changed, it's time to change the rules and get mining out of OUR PARKS. Doug C.]

Notes from the WCA AGM, April 19, 2022:

The Star Lake mining issue did get a mention in the WCA Annual General Meeting (AGM). Though it was merely noted that mining is a long-established activity in Parks. Because mining was in place long before the establishment of Whiteshell Park it is a legacy issue that would require altering legislation put in place in the era of the 1960's when attitudes to parks were much different than they are today.

(I intend to continue lobbying for the banning of mining activities in our parks and will be following information from the Wilderness Committee - Wilderness Committee Mining in Parks. You can send a letter expressing your concerns from the Wilderness Committe page. Doug C.)

In other Star Lake issues: mention was made of pending renovations to the Blk 4,5,6 boat launch, Yay! As well as a new hunting regulations map to be prepared and posted by Parks, hopefully for the 2022-23 season.

Reply from the Director of Parks to my email of Feb. 28, 2022:

I actually forgot that I had sent this email to the Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development, which got re-routed to the Minister of Environment, Climate and Parks. It was actually one of those auto-emails set up by The Wilderness Committee! (Wilderness Committee Mining in Parks) Here's what I sent:

"From: Doug Collicutt <dcoll@mymts.net>
Sent: February 28, 2022 2:00 PM
To: Agriculture and Resource Development, Minister <MINAGR@leg.gov.mb.ca>
Subject: Manitobans love our parks, please protect them from mining!

To Ralph Eichler,

Commercial mining has no place in Provincial Parks, especially in close proximity to homes and cottages in densely populated recreational areas.

 Yours truly, Doug Collicutt R3E 2N6"

You can read the reply I received (2 months later) at this link:

Director's Reply

Interestingly, I received that reply the same day a CTV news story regarding the $50 million addition to the province's Orphaned and Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program. (Since 2016 Manitoba has spent over $214 million on this program!)

Mines clean-up fund! - CTV News | Orphaned/Abandoned Mine Site Rehabilitation - Mb Agriculture and Resource Development website

Hey, here's an idea! Why not use some of that taxpayer money to buy up old mineral leases in provincial parks preventing them being used for mineral exploration and exploitation? That would go a long way to removing the "black-eye" that both government and industry endure when mining occurs in our provincial parks! If we can't get the Parks and Mines Acts changed quickly to remove mining from our Parks this may be a way to achieve the desired end?

(More notes to come on this update. If you have comments or suggestions please send them along and I will post them here.)


April 10, 2022 Update:

The Whiteshell Cottagers Association (WCA) met with Parks April 8 and I was told this issue was to be discussed. I have yet to hear back from the WCA, but will post a response later. It is also my understanding that the issue will be addressed at the upcoming WCA AGM (April 19, you can find out more and sign up for the virtual meeting at WCA AGM).

I think it may be time to let our Park Specialist know that we are watching this issue closely. Please send off some emails to express your opinions and show some support for Star Lake prior to the WCA AGM.

I will be viewing the WCA AGM and will report back on this site. I think we can continue to be patient and in fairness allow the proper steps to be followed. This may take some time and I remain concerned about the outcome. So I encourage you all to make some contact with our Park Specialist, at least to let her know we are watching closely. Please cc me (dcoll@mymts.net) with any correspondence. Thanks, bye for now, Doug C.

(P.S. Our Star Lake Cottagers website has had more than 1300 page views in the last month alone. The mining issues page has been viewed nearly 600 times in the last month. It is an effective means to get information to folks!)


Some letters sent to Parks on this subject:

Star Very SmallBert Denouden Star Very SmallDebbie and Keith Halhead
Star Very SmallDoug Collicutt  
(More coming soon)  

Letters and comments posted here will help to support our cause when it comes time for public review of any new permitting related to mining in the Park. Numbers count when it comes to influencing bureaucrats and politicians!


April 4, 2022 Update:

I'm still waiting to hear back from Parks regarding the current state of this issue.

See some recent comments from local folks below.

For all those of you who hike, bike, pick berries and mushrooms, or throw sticks in the pond for your dog, up the old mining road south of Star Lake I apologize for the images presented here. I wasn't aware that "mineral exploration" involves bulldozers and vandalizing the land. I'm very angry that this has taken place. I had no idea the "exploration" would be so destructive to a place that I, and I'm sure many of you, have used and enjoyed for many years.

Images of the old abandoned road just south of Star Lake
 
Some "before" images: Some "after"images: (recorded Apr. 1, 2022)
Before 01
Once a scenic spot.
After 01
The road is a mud bath now.
Before 02
Used by many for hikes.
After 02
Numerous clearing were scoured out.
Before 03
The road leads to a beautiful pond.
After 03
The road fork where you could pick blueberries.
Before 04
A great place for a dog swim.
After 04
Land scraped to the bone.
  After 05
The scenic view now.
 
(More images and video coming.)

I know there is still a chance that the current exploration may prove the site to be unworthy of further development and the land will be left to heal again That's my sincere hope. I have approached some media folks about our situation and they are interested in the story, but I've asked them to hold off until we hear something definitive from Parks.

Is it time for letters and petitions? Maybe not yet? But I'm certainly not going to tell folks NOT to express their concerns or outrage, but I do want to hear officially from Parks as this process unfolds.

Please check in regularly to stay up-to-date. Thanks, bye for now, Doug C.

Some Comments:

"The more I read the more it hurts. To see what the province does over and over in our parks. Keeping the users in the dark and abusers funded. It’s crazy business practice for sure. The province seems to allow access to contractor and developers before the cottage season begins. Keeping cottagers in the dark." - Bert D. Blk 6, Star Lake

"How sad." - Marilyn S.

"Rough walking and biking now....this is just "exploration". What a disgusting mess. 😡 Say no to mining where people use the trails to enjoy the great outdoors." - Val C. Blk 6 Star Lake

"This is very disappointing. My daughter asked me the other day if I would take her back to "that beautiful field with all the flowers" this summer. She was referring to the clearing along one of the roads. We did a lot of walking and biking there this past summer." - Jeff H. Blk 6, Star Lake

"What a mess they've made just doing exploration on the old mine site. Hard to believe the govt is allowing mining again in the park after all the sites were capped and cleaned up at considerable taxpayers expense." Val C, Blk 6, Star Lake


Updated March 26, 2022, additional information:

These are additional resources, not part my March 3 meeting with Parks.

Star Very SmallDiamond Drilling Commences as Geophysics Program Is Completed at McFarlane's West Hawk Lake Property A link to our situation and the company involved. This is our Star Lake site, it is just referred to as the West Hawk Lake Property. (I hope that tax dollars through the Mineral Development Fund aren't behind this?)Star Very Small

Also: Interesting to note that in all of McFarlane Lake's news releases they neglect to state that their exploration is in Whiteshell Provincial Park in the heart of cottage country, only a few hundred metres from cottages and homes?

Star Very SmallDrilling Program CompletedStar Very Small - results expected in a few weeks.

The company's Website: McFarlane Lake Mining. (Some other related links coming soon.)

Drilling company website: Platinum Diamond Drilling Inc.


Recent images from the Star Lake Site: Road cleared for access | Sign near the site.

Recent, Mar. 5, 2022, images from the mineral exploration: Image 01 | Image 02 | Image 03

To quote the photographer: "If this is how they treat the site for "exploration" what can we expect from full-blown mining?"


Some external links:

Mining firm fined for releasing radioactive material -what if this happened at Star Lake?

Is Whiteshell Park a place for a mine? - info from The Wilderness Committee.

West Hawk Lake Gold Project. Information from what was a previous claim owning company? Click on the Technical Reports link at the top of the page. This includes the area in question at Star Lake.) You can download the most pertinent technical report from this link PDF 22 Mb). McFarlanes (above) appears to be the current lease holder?

MINERAL INVENTORY FILE NO. 103 - older record of the Star Lake mine site.

Manitoba's Mineral Industry - Agriculture and Resource Development website with basic mining information.

Province Provides More than $1 Million Toward Manitoba Mineral Development Fund - after opening Parks to mineral exploration our government is funding mineral exploration in Parks?

Southeast Mystery Mineral Potentially Gold - Steinbach article from 2017, a pro-mining one.


Nopiming Park Situation

Mining has become an issue in Nopiming Park and there are a number of online resources I would like folks to have a look at. It shows the impact of the current government's decision to reverse the previous government's moratorium on mining exploration in Provincial Parks.

New Nopiming Mining Video - a new video posted by the Wilderness Committee Apr. 13, 2022.

Wilderness Committee - holds a variety of resources and information.

Manitoba Parks Defense - regarding industrial activities in parks.

Wilderness Committee finds 'destructive' mining in Nopiming Provincial Park

End Park Mining in Manitoba - a Wilderness Committee video.

CBC Article from 2018 - Wilderness Committee finds 'destructive' mining in Nopiming Provincial Park - please read this one. One important statement attributable to Parks is to be found in a CBC report from 2018:

“The statement went on to say this kind of activity would only be permitted if it does not compromise the recreation or access values of the land use category."

(How could a modern mining operation NOT compromise recreation value?)

Wilderness Committee Discovers Illegal Mining Claim in Nopiming Provincial Park - a rather disturbing article involving allegations of inappropriate actions by a former Director of the Mines Branch.

Mining exploration in Nopiming Provincial Park 'an atrocity,' national environmental group says - Winnipeg Sun article from 2018.

Aerobic anoxygenic phototrophs in gold mine tailings in Nopiming Provincial Park, Manitoba, Canada - pollution legacy from old mining operations.

New mine development in provincial parks. - Comments on Nopiming Park Mining, some specific comments from Parks below in the conversation.


March 21, 2022 Update

Some additional information, resources and thoughts:

Informational links, an assortment of mining related articles:

Report reveals mine on shaky ground - a disturbing situation.

Greens will ban mining and logging in provincial parks - statement from the Green Party.

A Poll Suggests Manitobans Want Logging and Mining Abolished From Provincial Parks.

Manitoba's own mining mess wreaks havoc on our parks - Free Press article from 2014.

70 per cent of Manitobans support ban on logging and mining in provincial parks

2015 Guidelines for Mineral Exploration in Manitoba


February Update:

It was brought to my attention in January, 2022 that survey lines had shown up on the old road leading to the former site of the Sunbeam Mine about 1.2 km south of cottages in Blk 6 of Star Lake. This road leads off the Blk 4,5,6 road at the sharp bend about 200 m west of Hwy 301, near the site of the now-removed garbage cage. I contacted the Falcon Lake Parks office and received this reply:

"Thank you for your email. There is an approved permit for a company to conduct surface exploration on an existing mineral lease southwest of the Star Lake area."

As most of you know the area around Star Lake was an active mining site in the early to mid 20th century. (Please see some of the articles regarding geology and mining in the Information about Star Lake page.)

Now, "surface exploration" does not mean that a mining operation in our backyard is imminent; it may be just a part of maintaining the existing mineral lease. But it is worrying to think that such a possibility does exist. (It's also concerning that we don't hear of such activities from Parks ahead of time and have to rely on our own observations and questions to determine what's going on.) Manitoba condones and promotes mining exploration within Provincial Parks and to my knowledge there are no prohibitions against the establishment of new mines or the reactivation of decommissioned ones within Parks.

It is concerning to think that despite all the efforts and money (taxpayer's money!) that have gone into remediation of former mine sites around Star Lake that mining might still be a consideration in a dense recreational area. In 2007 a dangerous open mine shaft at the site of the former Sunbeam mine was capped with concrete at a cost of about $20,000.

In 2014 there was an extensive effort to clean up a former site contaminated with old vehicles and dilapidated buildings, and cap a number of open shafts and pits along the trail that leads from Star Lake to Falcon Lake. (Here's a photo of some of the equipment involved.) This extensive effort must have required several hundred thousand dollars! (Anyone have information on what this actually cost? I will try to get this from Parks or Mines Branch.)

In 2016 the former sand extraction pit, just south of the Hydro transmission line, was closed and remediated (graded smooth). That must have cost $10,000 or more. A lot of money has gone into the removal of the effects of prior mining operations!

And there is still a dangerous open shaft near the Sunbeam site that has yet to be safely capped.

I have posted this information to keep Star Lake cottagers informed about what's going on in OUR BACKYARD. Let's all stay vigilant to keep Star Lake the way we want it: beautiful, safe and a great place to enjoy nature and outdoor activities.

Let's hope we don't have to remind our government (again!) that we're not in favour of commercial exploitation of OUR PARK, especially not in OUR BACKYARD. If you hear of, or encounter, any information regarding this or any other issue affecting Star Lake please let me know. Thanks for reading this, bye for now.

Doug Collicutt


Some thoughts on Mining at Star Lake

These are some of the things I've (Doug C.) have been considering re this issue. I'd love to hear from other folks and would be happy to include your feedback here. Also, I hope that anyone that has contacts at other lakes will let them know about this issue. Commercial mining in Whiteshell Park affects us all. Thanks.

Excerpts from the Whiteshell Park Master Plan, available at this link: (Park Management Plan)

(NOTE: the current master plan on Parks website dates from 1983. So things are still being planned from a perspective 40 years old?) Here's a few segments regarding mining in the park.

"Specific applications for small-scale mineral exploration may be approved if it can be shown that the 'need to know' outweighs other considerations. Such operations would be subject to specific terms and conditions; approval of exploration would not infer approval of a mining operation. Proposals for the development of mineral resources will only be approved when it can be demonstrated that the benefits far exceed potential loss of inherent values in the zone." (This certainly applies to us!)

"Backcountry Recreation Zone - Any proposed forestry or mining operations will be subject to the above stipulation and to terms and conditions of permits to explore, develop or harvest. Such terms and conditions will be designed to ensure long-term protection of Special Areas, fish and wildlife habitat, and
existing or potential recreational opportunities. All applications to
explore for or develop minerals or harvest timber will be reviewed by the
Parks Branch prior to the issuance of permits
"

"Access Zones - Access Zones in Whiteshell Provincial Park consist of a 300 metre corridor on either side of the centre line of major highways and roads
linking the Intensive Recreation Zones within the park. These zones are

the Trans-Canada Highway, Provincial Trunk Highway 44, Provincial Roads
307 and 309, and access roads to Meditation and Lone Island Lakes
. With the exception of sand and gravel removal, mineral explorations and development are not permitted. Hunting is not permitted in Access Zones." (Should include Hwy 301, too?)

"Mining - Specific guidelines relating to exploration for mineral resources
will be detailed through the permit-review process. Wherever possible
exploratory activities will occur in the off-season. Furthermore, the
development of mineral resources in or adjacent to Intensive Recreation
Zones will be limited generally to small-scale operations, for example, those with a work-force of 20 people or less. Also limited to the off-season could be the transportation of ores for processing outside the park."

Economic benefits?

Industry and government will suggest that mining in our parks will result in jobs and taxes benefiting all Manitobans. But who really supports the economy in Whiteshell Park? I'd suggest that cottagers are one, if not the main source, of economic development in our park.

At Star lake there are 124 cottages. Annually, fees alone from our lake amount to over $120,000!

Take my family for example. We bought our cottage 30 years ago for the then expensive price of $47,000. When my parents passed away we invested all my inheritance in renovations and upgrades to our cottage, all done by local contractors with materials purchased locally. And over the years we have supported park-based businesses of all types, marinas, restaurants, gas stations and stores. I figure we've contributed at least $300,000 over the years to the local economy. I suspect that a lot if not most of the cottage owners in the park can make a similar claim. So, who's really supporting the economy in the park? It's us! Cottagers along with campers and day visitors are the economic drivers in the park.

Detriments to Cottagers

- noise, day-long disturbance to peace and quiet?

- traffic including heavy ore trucks, plus 10-20 private vehicles on site every day? (If Parks should be so callous as to allow mining at the old Sunbeam site we should insist that the access to the site be limited to the old logging road access off Hwy #1, with no access permitted off our cottage road!)

- pollution: air-borne (vehicles and heavy machinery operation) and tailings stored on site? surface water pollution and ground water pollution? Folks with wells on their lots?

- safety? increased traffic and strangers in community? (Same arguments as CLISS) - habitat destruction in once recovering area? Species at Risk (SAR) impacted, are several SAR in area.

- opening door to other commercial exploitation?

(More thoughts to come. Have something to say? Please send me an email: Comments about Mining at Star Lake.)


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