Mount Polley Mine

Imperial Metals has announced that the British Columbia (BC) Conservation Service has gained search warrants for its Mount Polley mine and head office in Vancouver, in relation to an waste spill.

The search warrants support a joint investigation by the BC Conservation Service, the RCMP, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada into a spill of 25 million m³ of waste from the mine’s tailings pond on 4 August 2014.

BC Conservation Service Inspector Chris Doyle told cbcnews: "The investigation primarily focuses on offences related to the Environment Management Act and the Federal Fisheries Act, but is not limited to these acts."

Since the breach of the tailings storage facility (TSF) occurred, the mill has been on care and maintenance.

"The investigation primarily focuses on offences related to the Environment Management Act and the Federal Fisheries Act."

The company’s senior management responded immediately, working with its mine operating personnel, local agencies, provincial ministry officials and the engineers of record to assess the breach extent, as well as the impact of the release of water and tailings into the surrounding area.

The breach resulted in erosion and scour of the embankment separating the TSF from Polley Lake.

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On 5 August the Province of BC issued a Pollution Abatement Order No. 107461 to Mount Polley Mining, requiring it to implement measures and submit documentation detailing the company’s response.

The open pit, copper-gold Mount Polley mine is located in south-central British Columbia and covers 18,794ha. The operation consists of seven mining leases totalling 2,007ha and 43 mineral claims over 16,787ha.

Image: An aerial view of the earthen dam at Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia. Photo: courtesy of Jesse Allen.