Comment from the Imperial Metals Vice President of Corporate Affairs to suggest the reopening of the mine early yesterday did not sit well with everyone including First Nation Chiefs.
Presentations were prepared and shared in Likely Sunday from the Ministry of Environment and Imperial Metals, followed by open mic questions to share the latest steps to mitigate the Mt Polley breach and environmental remediation.
The controversy quickly pursued when Steve Robertson with Imperial Metals openly suggested that the mine could be back to normal operations early.
Chief Bev Sellars, of the Soda Creek First Nation, says it’s way too early to even consider as there are too many questions that are not answered.
“The First Nation communities haven’t had any discussions with the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Mines, or Mt. Polley, so … no, we’re not looking at re-opening right now,” she says. “I understand there’s a concern for jobs and other things, but there’s a whole lot more clean-up.”
Chief Anne Louie of the Williams Lake Indian Band, says she was shocked by the remark from Robertson, echoing the sentiment that there was no discussion with First Nations.
“When they got questioned, they back-tracked and said ‘We were going to bring it to the table’, but that’s now how we heard it,” she says. “I addressed it personally on it to not say things that are not true.”
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, we don’t know what their requests are. Why would we say ‘Yes, go ahead and open the mine’, when the panel reporting is not even out,” Louie asks.
Robertson meanwhile says he only made the comment of Mt Polley reopening early to try to convey that plans are on the table for discussion.
The first phase of a long-term remediation plan for the area impacted by the breach, focusing on human health and environmental safety, is not expected to be completed until June 2015.