The Minister of Energy and Mines is encouraging everyone to take a deep breath in regards to Mt. Polley’s still waiting to be approved water discharge permit.
Minister Bill Bennett says he believes that people, unfortunately, have been misinformed about the details of the situation.
“Our information that was provided to us by the mine on November the 20th indicates that if the water discharge permit is received by December 15th, and even if it’s an extremely wet winter that the water will not reach the 1030 meter mark until April of 2016.”
Bennett says that there is also no danger of a breach as Springer Pit is an abandoned mined out pit, not an engineered constructed facility.
A decision on the permit by a statutory decision-maker according to the Ministry of Environment is expected by the end of this month.
“We’re under the impression that if they get their permit let’s say around the end of November that that will be lots of time and everything will be just fine,” Bennett said.
“I really do believe that people do need to relax a little bit here and not believe every rumor that somebody tells them.”
He adds that he believes we all need to recognize that when you discharge water from a mine site you need to be very certain about the quality of the water and how it’s going to be discharged.
“You really can’t blame the statutory decision makers-the Ministers don’t make these decisions,” Bennett said.
“You can’t blame the staff for taking enough time to make sure that they are satisfied that this going to be done properly. I think it will be done properly, I believe that it will, I believe that the mine will do it right and I believe that they will get their permit in time.”
“The government is not going to get in the way of Polley keeping their people employed and operating that mine.”
Imperial Metals which owns and operates Mount Polley had applied for a short term water permit on July 16, 2015, to discharge treated mine contact water from Springer Pit into Quesnel Lake with the anticipation of having received a decision on the permit on Oct. 15, Oct. 30, and most recently on Nov. 15.
The Springer Pit which has a threshold of 1030 meters above sea level currently has a water level of over 1024 meters.
The mine’s restricted operations permit states that if the level reaches 1030 meters it will have to cease operations with the untreated water potentially exfiltrating into Boot Jack Lake and groundwater.