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B.C. mining code aims to eliminate disasters like Mount Polley

FILE PHOTO: The tailings pond of the Mount Polley mine, southeast of Quesnel, was breached, discharging waste water into Hazeltine Creek on Aug. 4, 2014.
FILE PHOTO: The tailings pond of the Mount Polley mine, southeast of Quesnel, was breached, discharging waste water into Hazeltine Creek on Aug. 4, 2014. The Canadian Press

VICTORIA – Mines Minister Bill Bennett says British Columbia is making changes to its mining code that sets standards to ensure that a disaster like the Mount Polley tailings pond collapse never happens again.

In August 2014, a massive dam breached at the mine in B.C.’s Interior, sending 24 million cubic meters of waste and water into nearby rivers and lakes.

Bennett says changes include design standards for tailings storage facilities tailored to conditions within the province and emphasize public and worker protection.

An independent review of the disaster concluded that the tailings dam collapsed because the strength and location of clay underneath the dam was not taken into account during original designs.

Bennett says the new code includes world-leading standards that involve tailings facility site locations based on geological, hydrogeological and seismic characteristics.

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The Mount Polley gold and copper mine, owned by Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX:III), was cleared to resume full operations last month.

“The Mount Polley disaster was unprecedented for British Columbia, but it did happen,” said Bennett in a statement Wednesday. “We have now taken steps to ensure such a disaster can never happen again.”

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