KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The Mining Association of B.C. says much has been learned since the collapse of a tailings pond at a south-central B.C. mine, exactly one year ago.
Association president Karina Brino says the Aug. 4, 2014 accident at the Mount Polley operation has forced the mining industry to take a close look at all practices surrounding the construction, maintenance and use of tailings ponds.
She says accidents will happen, but adds investigators remain focused on the root causes of the collapse and mitigating risk is the industry’s biggest challenge.
Roughly 24 million cubic metres of mine water and waste gushed into area waterways about 50 kilometres northwest of Williams Lake, when the pond failed because of what an independent report determined was poor dam design.
Since then, Imperial Metals, which operates the gold and copper mine, has spent nearly $67-million stabilizing a creek and ensuring water in nearby Quesnel Lake meets provincial standards.
The provincial government has spent $6-million on the clean up, and Imperial Metals was granted conditional approval to reopen last month, although it still needs further permits before it can operate fully.