A long-term water management plan for the Mount Polley mine has been approved.
“With the approval of its long-term water management plan, the Mount Polley Mine has met its requirements to government and it can continue operations,” said Bill Bennett, mines minister. “I know this is welcome news for the communities of Likely, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and the families that depend on the jobs the mine provides.”
The long-term water management plan for the Mount Polley mine site was approved today by an independent statutory-decision maker from the Ministry of Environment. It is expected to be fully in place by fall 2017 and will replace the short-term water management plan that has been in place since Nov. 30, 2015. The mine was the site of the one of the country’s largest environmental disasters when a tailings pond breached in August 2014 resulting in the release of 17 million cubic metres of water and eight million cubic metres of tailings into Hazeltine Creek, Polley and Quesnel Lakes.
Prior to approval, the company’s permit application underwent extensive public consultation, including First Nations and local communities, as well as a full technical review from the Cariboo Mine Development Review Committee.
“The permit is good news for the employees of Mount Polley,” said Paul French, president, USW Local 1-425. “I’m glad that the requirements for the permit were met.”
The move, however, has angered the community group Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake.
“This is a sad day,” Christine McLean posted on the group’s Facebook page. “One of the saddest I’ve experienced- we’ve just lost one of the most pristine- naturally pure bodies of water in this province and certainly in this country! Probably North America- FOR WHAT! GREED of Industry, nothing more …”
The goal of the group is to “ensure the restoration and remediation of the environment in and around Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek, to monitor industry and government; ensuring that the pristine water, air quality, aquatic life, animal populations and terrestrial habitat is returned to pre-breach conditions, and to ensure the future protection of this watershed for its recipients from the effects of industry.”
The group is will continuing its opposition to any further discharge of toxic mine waste water into Quesnel Lake.