Phase 1 cleanup done at site of B.C.’s Mount Polley mine disaster: ministry

The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward
The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment says the first stage of a massive recovery operation at the collapse of a tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine site has been complete.

The work is outlined in a Phase 1 progress report released by the ministry, which says the company has taken steps to stabilize a creek and to ensure water entering Quesnel Lake meets provincial standards.

The ministry says the second phase of work will continue through next summer and will focus on remediating the impacts of the breach and assessing ecological and human health.

About 24-million cubic metres of mine water and waste gushed into area lakes and waterways in B.C.’s central Interior last August, when the dam’s tailings pond failed.

The ministry says work has begun or is complete in several areas, such as the removal of wood debris from the lake, tailings’ containment, erosion mitigation, and the protection of fish and archaeological sites.

Earlier this month, Mines Minister Bill Bennett said the government had granted the owner of the mine, Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX:III), conditional approval to reopen, although he said it still had to apply for further permits before it can operate fully.