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Mount Polley could re-open within months, Imperial Metals says

by Greg Klein | April 30, 2015

The mine behind a British Columbia environmental disaster could resume operations this summer, according to an Imperial Metals TSX:III spokesperson quoted by Canadian Press on April 30. With a public comment period ending May 2, permission to restart might follow in June. “Within a few weeks we would be able to be up and running,” VP of corporate affairs Steve Robertson told CP. “What we’re proposing is a modified restart.”

The open pit copper-gold mine shut down in August after a nearly 40-metre tailings dam collapsed, spewing 24.4 million cubic metres of effluent into the Quesnel Lake watershed. A January report by an independent panel of three engineering experts attributed the cause to a deposit of glacial till, eight metres below the base of the dam, which the designers failed to understand properly.

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.—Bill Bennett,
B.C. mines minister

Then, with little or no long-term planning, “the design was caught between the rising water and the mine plan, between the imperative of raising the dam and the scarcity of materials for building it,” the report stated. “Something had to give and the result was oversteepened dam slopes, deferred buttressing and the seemingly ad hoc nature of dam expansion.”

Following the disaster, the provincial government ordered third-party inspections of 98 tailings facilities at current and former mines. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requested companies report on their uranium tailings facilities.

Robertson made his remarks on April 29, the same day protestors demonstrated opposition at the TSX, B.C. government offices, the Canadian consulate in Los Angeles and Oregon’s Portland State University, the news agency added. Robertson said a restart would initially return jobs to more than half of Mount Polley’s 370 employees.

B.C. mines minister Bill Bennett told CP, “There are a lot of families up there worried about their jobs. 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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