Imperial Metals proposes a restart plan for Mount Polley Mine

April 30, 2015

Imperial Metals Corp. announced that its Mount Polley Mine in central British Columbia could be operating safely and near full capacity within months, The Canadian Press reported.

The news of plans to reopen the mine were a tailings pond breach in August 2014 released millions of meters of polluted water was greeted by protests in Vancouver.

Steve Robertson, vice-president of corporate affairs at Imperial Metals Corp., (TSE-Ill), said that more than 50 percent of Mount Polley’s 370 employees would be back at work if the Vancouver-based company is granted a permit to restart operations.

“If we get a permit approving the restart of the mine in June, it’s going to take a few weeks, but within a few weeks we would be able to be up and running,” he said. “What we’re proposing is a modified restart.”

Robertson said the startup phase would not be full speed.

He said 276 people were employed doing restoration in March, but those numbers are fluctuating.

Environmental and aboriginal groups say they will oppose any decision that allows Mount Polley, blamed for spilling 24-million cubic metres of silt and water into nearby lakes and rivers last August, to resume operations.

B.C.’s Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said Imperial Metals must prove to a mine development technical review body Mount Polley can resume operations safely, on a temporary and permanent basis.

A 30-day public comment period on Mount Polley’s application to reopen ends May 2.

The review body includes representatives from government agencies, First Nations, local governments, the community of Likely, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada.

An independent, government-ordered report concluded earlier this year the construction of Mount Polley’s tailings pond on top of a sloped glacial lake weakened the foundation of the dam and was akin to loading a gun and then pulling the trigger.

It said the spill was caused by an inadequately designed dam that didn’t account for drainage and erosion failures associated with glacial till beneath the pond.

Bennett said he is deeply aware of the environmental, economic and social concerns associated with the mine-permit decision.

“There are a lot of families up there worried about their jobs,” he said. “You get pulled in both directions. I want to make sure it’s done absolutely flawlessly from a policy point of view. I also want to see those families working.”
 

 

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