How would you decide in a dispute (fight, war) between the United States and Canada? Now miners can express their opinion on an international struggle between the two nations over issues fundamental to the mining industry. The US State Department will take time off from Afghanistan and Iraq to address the fight between the US and Canada—or so the news report tells us.

At stake is a new coal mine in British Columbia that will send its runoff et al. down the river into Montana. This war reflects the fundamental differences between BC and Montana: The one is gung-ho for mining, the other is dead set against it. The one has weak environmental laws and review processes, the other is vicious. The one subsists on the sweat of the taxpayer, the other gets by nicely from money generally earned in other places. The one has little history of mining impact, the other owns the Berkeley Pit.


The river potentially affected by the BC coal mine runs along the western edge of the Glacier National Park. Last time I was there the glaciers were melting fast and are predicted to be gone sooner rather than later. It is hard to believe more coal burning will affect the life of the glaciers, regardless of the Canadian federal government’s promised new clean air policy, what the next US president does about global warming, or how many nuclear power plants Australia provides. Regardless of the outcome of these pie-in-the-sky perspectives, the dispute between Montana and BC boils down to some fundamental issues, viz:

  • Are BC's environmental review procedures equivalent to those in Montana and if not why is the lesser not brought up to the standard of the better?
  • Has a sovereign nation the right to send its “products” unbidden and uninvited across an international border into an unwilling neighbor’s territory?
  • Should a private company that seeks to develop an industry in one country also comply with the laws of adjacent countries that stand to be affected by the company’s activities?
  • Is the difference in attitude to mining in Montana and in BC reflective of sound fundamentals, or is this another clash of cultures, another clash of rich versus poor, of idealism versus reality?

I do not know the answer to these questions, although given time I would offer an opinion on each. Better that you post an opinion below and let us as a mining community discuss and settle this before we toss it to the war department, the politician, and the anti-mining bogger.