January 7, 2019 9:32 pm
Updated: January 8, 2019 1:34 pm

Mount Polley mine to suspend operations due to sagging copper prices

Contents from a tailings pond is pictured going down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. on August, 5, 2014. A toxic spill from a British Columbia mine has prompted the country's nuclear watchdog to request a series of checks at seven uranium facilities.The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will discuss the failure of the tailings pond at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine during a meeting Wednesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
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Imperial Metals is shutting down operations at British Columbia’s Mount Polley mine.

The company says it had to make the decision because of declining copper prices.

“The suspension plan includes milling of low grade stockpiles which is targeted to extend operations to the end of May 2019,” reads a statement from the company.

“There will be no impact to the mine’s ongoing environmental monitoring and remediation program. Full operations will resume once the economics of mining at Mount Polley improve.”

READ MORE: Residents calling it an environmental disaster: tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine near Likely, BC

In August 2014, the mine was the site of one of the worst spills in British Columbia’s history. The collapse of the tailings dam sent more than 24 million cubic metres of mine waste into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake.

Residents in the area near the mine were put under a complete water ban. The mine was repaired and reinforced and has been fully operational since July 2017.

WATCH (aired August 4 2017): No provincial charges in Mount Polley dam disaster


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Reports by the province’s chief inspector of mines found the collapse was caused by a poorly designed dam that didn’t properly account for drainage and erosion failures.

In 2017 the provincial government announced there would be no provincial charges into the tailings dam collapse. The B.C. Prosecution Service ruled a stay in proceedings in a private prosecution related to the tailings pond spill.  There are still potential charges under the federal Fisheries Act in connection with the spill.

The provincial government provided a brief statement in reaction to the news.

“Our government’s immediate focus is to do what we can to support the Mount Polley Mine workers, their families and the communities during this difficult time,” James said in a statement.

“Government staff will be reaching out to the affected workers to offer support and help them find other employment opportunities.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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