Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett and Minister of Environment Mary Polak announced today that after careful evaluation, statutory decision-makers have conditionally authorized the Mount Polley Mine Corporation to begin restricted operations.
“This conditional restricted permit to re-start operations is the first of three significant steps the company needs to continue operation and does not include the ability to discharge water off the site,” said Bennett.
“In the early fall, the company will need a second conditional permit to treat and discharge water in order for operations to continue.”
“Lastly, the company must submit a long-term water treatment and discharge plan to government by June 30, 2016.”
“The mine will not be authorized to continue to operate long-term if it fails to complete either of the last two steps.”
The Mount Polley Mine Corporation estimates it will take about 30 days before it can begin production now that ministry staff has 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.
The amended Mines Act permit authorizes the company to operate at roughly half the rate of normal operations.
The tailings facility will not be utilized during the operation. Mount Polley Mine will use Springer Pit, an existing open pit on the mine site, to manage the tailings.
“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.
The following conditions are included under the amended Mines Act and Environmental Management Act permits and failure to meet these conditions will result in the shutdown of the mine:
- Water and tailings levels in Springer Pit must remain 20 meters below the top of the lowest pit edge (1,030 meters above sea level).
- No discharge off the mine site is authorized. The company must apply for a permit to treat and discharge water.
- Mount Polley Mining Corporation is not permitted to use its tailings storage facility (TSF).
- The company must pay an additional $6.1 million reclamation security.
- A five-year mine plan and reclamation plan must be provided to government by Sept. 30, 2015.
- An updated surface and groundwater monitoring plan must be submitted for approval by July 31, 2015.
- A long-term water treatment and discharge plan must be submitted to government by June 30, 2016. The mine will not be permitted to continue to operate if it fails to meet this deadline.