Imperial Metals Granted Mount Polley Mine Wastewater Discharge Into Local Waterways

Video: Aerial footage of Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach 

By Red Power Media, Staff

Mt. Polley Permit Approved

The operator of the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine can now discharge treated waste into local waterways.

The province of British Columbia has granted the operator a short-term application to discharge treated wastewater into Hazeltine Creek, which would then flow into Quesnel Lake.

The company is using a containment (Springer) pit, excavated to obtain ore, to temporarily store mining waste called tailings, while it comes up with a long-term plan to deal with the waste and water.

The permit was deemed necessary as water levels in the Springer Pit were expected to reach capacity next April.

Rising levels of water in the Springer Pit — and the potential it could overflow — had raised additional environmental concerns.

Earlier this month, Williams Lake mayor Walt Cobb and environmental groups expressed concerns that the pit was filling rapidly and the government was falling behind efforts to ensure environmental safety at the mine site.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said there were no concerns about another potential breach at the mine.

The government says any discharged water must meet quality guidelines for “aquatic and public health.”

The approval comes after consultation with First Nations, municipalities and residents affected by last year’s spill.

August 4, 2014, Mount Polley’s tailings dam collapsed, due to what was later found to be a design flaw. 24 million cubic metres of mine silt and water broke from the tailings pond and gushed into local rivers and lakes.

Clean water had to be hauled in so people could take showers, and local touring companies took a hit as the environmental disaster made headlines for months.

The Klabona Keepers set up roadblocks and halted work at the Red Chris Mine,  also Imperial Metals-owned — after the tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley mine raised concerns about a similar spill happening there.

Imperial Metals was granted a court injunction against the Klabona Keepers.