Restricted re-start authorized for Mount Polley mine

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The August 2014 breach of the tailings pond at Mount Polley mine.

Mount Polley Mine has been given a restricted go-ahead to re-start operations, nearly one year since a disastrous tailings pond breach spilled millions of cubic metres of water and slurry.

Minister of Environment Mary Polak announced today that after careful evaluation, statutory decision-makers with the ministries of Energy and Mines and Environment have conditionally authorized the Mount Polley Mine Corporation to begin restricted operations.

Under these conditions, the mine will operate at roughly half the rate of normal operations. An existing open pit on the mine site will be used instead of the tailings pond.

According to Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett, this “restricted permit to re-start operations” is the first of three steps for the Mount Polley Mine Corporation to continue operation. It “does not include the ability to discharge water off the site,” said Bennett.

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The second step will be a conditional permit to treat and discharge water, needed by the early fall. Lastly, a long-term plan for water treatment and discharge must be submitted by June 30, 2016. If either of the last two steps are not completed, the mine will not be permitted to operate long-term.

The Mount Polley Mine Corporation estimates it will take about 30 days before it can begin production now that ministry staff have amended the company’s Mines Act and Environmental Management Act permits. During restricted operations, the company expects to provide jobs for up to 220 workers.

“I know the re-start of the mine is welcome news for the communities of Likely, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and the families that depend on the jobs the mine provides,” said Bennett.

Inspectors with the Ministry of Energy and Mines will be onsite during the initial start-up period and will conduct regular site inspections once the mine is operating. Additionally, permit conditions require the company to provide weekly reports to government, First Nations, the Cariboo Regional District the community of Likely, detailing water management and water quality results. If necessary, ministry inspectors have full authority to issue stop work orders for any area of the mine found to be in non-compliance.

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