Mount Polley Mine site

The British Columbia (BC) government in Canada is set to form an expert panel to determine the better way to implement the recommendations it received from an investigation of the Mount Polley Mine breach in north-west BC in August 2014.

BC minister of energy and mines Bill Bennett appointed a code review committee under section 34 of the Mines Act.

In January, the independent expert engineering panel delivered a report on its investigation into the cause of the failure of the tailings storage facility at the mine.

The panel concluded that the failure caused as the strength and location of a layer of clay below the dam was not considered during its original design.

Following this, the panel made seven recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future.

Bennett said: "Work is already underway to address four of the expert panel’s recommendations on improving corporate governance, expanding corporate design commitments, improving professional engineering practices and strengthening current regulatory operations.

"This is the next to step in the process to implement all of the expert panel’s seven recommendations."

"The code review process will hopefully improve BC’s regulatory regime so as to prevent future mining disasters."

The code review will focus on implementing best available technology as well as practices including using filtered tailings technology where appropriate.

With the TSF facility portion of the code review expected to be completed in early 2016, the revisions are slated to be legally in force by mid-2016.

BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council CEO Dave Porter said: "The code review process will hopefully improve BC’s regulatory regime so as to prevent future mining disasters as witnessed with Mount Polley in 2014."

The Mount Polley mine disaster happened on 4 August 2014 with a breach of the Mount Polley copper and gold mine tailings pond owned by Imperial Metals. Contaminated water and slurry with years worth of mining waste seeped into Polley Lake.

Image: Mount Polley Mine site in British Columbia on 24 July 2014 prior to the dam breach on 4 August 2014. Photo: courtesy of Jesse Allen.