Province Gives Mt. Polley Re-Start Permission
Williams Lake, B.C. – Mount Polley mine near Likely can re-start, however there are several conditionsIt has been just over 11 months since the tailings pond breach at the mine sent millions of cubic metres of tailings down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake. Today, Minister of Mines Bill Bennett, and Minister of Environment Mary Polak gave the ok for the mine to start “restricted” operations.
“This conditional restricted permit to re-start operations is the first of three significant steps the company needs to continue operation and does not include the ability to discharge water off the site,” said Bennett. “In the early fall, the company will need a second conditional permit to treat and discharge water in order for operations to continue. Lastly, the company must submit a long-term water treatment and discharge plan to government by June 30, 2016.
The mine will not be authorized to continue to operate long-term if it fails to complete either of the last two steps.”
The Mount Polley Mine Corporation estimates it will take about 30 days before it can begin production now that ministry staff have amended the company’s Mines Act and Environmental Management Act permits. During restricted operations, the company expects to provide jobs for up to 220 workers.
The amended Mines Act permit authorizes the company to operate at roughly half the rate of normal operations. The tailings facility will not be utilized during the operation. Mount Polley Mine will use Springer Pit, an existing open pit on the mine site, to manage the tailings.
There are several other conditions that must be met, failure to do so will result in the mine’s operations being shut down:
* Water and tailings levels in Springer Pit must remain 20 metres below the top of the lowest pit edge (1,030 metres above sea level).
* No discharge off the mine site is authorized. The company must apply for a permit to treat and discharge water.
* Mount Polley Mining Corporation is not permitted to use its tailings storage facility (TSF).
* The company must pay an additional $6.1 million reclamation security.
* A five-year mine plan and reclamation plan must be provided to government by Sept. 30, 2015.
* An updated surface and groundwater monitoring plan must be submitted for approval by July 31, 2015.
* A long-term water treatment and discharge plan must be submitted to government by June 30, 2016. The mine will not be permitted to
continue to operate if it fails to meet this deadline.
Inspectors with the Ministry of Energy and Mines will be onsite during the initial start-up period and will conduct regular site inspections once the mine is operating. Additionally, permit conditions require the company to provide weekly reports to government, First Nations, the Cariboo Regional District the
community of Likely, detailing water management and water quality results. If necessary, ministry inspectors have full authority to issue stop work orders for any area of the mine found to be in non-compliance.