Mt. Polley Approval A Week Ahead of Long Term Water Management Plan
Prince George, B.C. – With the long term water management plan yet to be filed, there are questions about why Deputy Chief of Mines for B.C. Diane Howe decided to issue a permit for the mine to resume full production and use the tailings pond which breached two years ago.
The Mount Polley Mining Corporation has one week left to submit a long term water management plan. Bennett says he supports the decision made by Diane Howe to issue the permit now, even though that plan has yet to be submitted, saying there were some employment concerns “Advice that I’ve been given that Mount Polley Mining Corporation is out of ore and that essentially they would have to send people home over the next week. So on that basis, it’s my understanding and on the strength of the Committee’s recommendation ( to issue the permit) that Government not arbitrarily decide to delay for 7 days and have people sent home, when the Committee that looked at this with all the professionals on it, engineers and so forth has recommended that it be reopened.”
Howe says the decision was made following a lengthy ( 8 month) detailed review “The tailings facility is fully repaired and operational” noting more than 2.5 million tonnes of material have been put in place to “buttress” the facility. She says there have been 8 inspections of the facility and five separate site visits
“It was a very detailed process” says Mines Minister Bill Bennett. He said there have been a number of test holes drilled to ensure the foundation would not slip. The breach of the tailings facility in August of 2014 was blamed on the facility’s foundation being placed on an unknown layer of clay. That breach sent millions of cubic metres of tailings and water thundering down Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake.
So why should the public trust that everything is ok? “I’m speculating obviously, I don’t know what public reaction will be to this” says Bennett “There will be some who will question if Government has done a good enough job and that’s fair enough, We know that our feet will be held to the fire, but we’ve had independent engineers involved in this process all the way through, the engineers from our own ministry, we’ve had engineers from the Ministry of Environment involved in it . We’ve done all the things the Independent Engineering Panel thought should be done.”
Until that long term water management plan is submitted and approved ( approval could take several months), the short term plan, which has the mine using the Springer Pit and a new water treatment plant, gives the company options to deal with excess water until the long term plan is approved.
“We do have more work to do” says Bennett “We are very deep into our response to this accident to make sure it can never happen again. I do know the return to full production for this mine is going to be welcome news for the community.”