Questions are being raised about the Ministry of Environment’s March 11th decision to grant Mt. Polley permission to temporarily discharge untreated effluent directly into Quesnel Lake and Hazeltine Creek.
Ugo Lapointe who focuses on Canadian mining policy development and provides technical and logistical support to communities affected by mineral exploration and mining projects with Mining Watch Canada says it begs the question if Quesnel Lake is worth less than the $2 million dollars it would have cost for another treatment plant…
“If you spread that two million dollars over the several years of life of the water treatment unit, it ends up being maybe $300,000 a year just to treat all of the water. Again we have the impression, this is a company that wants to cut corners.”
“One unit costs 2 million dollars which is 0.6% of the total revenue of Imperial Metals over the last two years and it’s 0.1% of it’s total net assets right now.”
Lapointe says it was pretty clear months ago when Mt. Polley applied for their short term water discharge permit that a single water treatment unit would not be enough.
He says the authorization of the bypass is not reassuring for the future and that it’s another saga of poor management and planning.
The bypass according to the Ministry of Environment is to deal with freshet flows and a bottleneck at the water treatment plant.
They say as the long term water management plan has not yet been submitted by Imperial Metals, they cannot speculate on how the bypass may or may not fit into the long term water management plan.
The Ministry adds that there is no environmental harm, and that the water that bypasses the water treatment plant has received settling and treatment via storage in the Springer Pit which enables it to meet the permit discharge permit quality limits (as indicated by sampling of the Springer pit water).
Water Sample analysis results for April 4th, reflected an exceedance of the permitted level for total copper. The company stated in a memorandum they had ceased discharging on April 20th was undertaking steps to confirm the water sample results.
Imperial Metals was unavailable for comment.