Thursday, April 09, 2015

This Day In Clarkland...All Your Tailing Ponds 'R Us.


You would think that, after it became clear that all kinds of folks, including government folks, knew of issues with the Mount Polley dirt pile before it dissolved like a sandcastle before the incoming tide, something would have to change in British Columbia mining industry.

And the blue ribbon panel that was assembled by the Clarklandians actually said that things should change as Gordon Hoekstra of the VSun noted last week:

After the catastrophic failure of the Mount Polley mine tailings dam last summer, an expert engineering panel appointed by the B.C. government called for a major shift in how to deal with mine waste.

The panel recommended a move away from the conventional method of storing waste behind dams.


...The panel said...that to reduce dam failures, the number of dams must be reduced.

So, it recommended an alternative method of filtering the water out of the tailings and then stacking them in a big pile, a method commonly called dry stacking.

The result is there is no dam to fail, and if a dry stack shifted or moved, including as a result of an earthquake, it would not go as far as water-saturated tailings. The Mount Polley dam failure released millions of cubic metres of water and tailings into the Quesnel watershed, destroying a nine-kilometre creek and raising concerns about the long-term effects on millions of salmon...

Except, so far all indications are that there are no real plans for any significant dry stacking whatsoever:

...However, all 10 of the active open-pit metal mine proposals either approved or on the province’s assessment list have plans to build conventional storage facilities with dams to store tailings.

Mining companies say filtering and dry stacking won’t work in B.C. — there’s too much rain and it is too costly...

All of which kind of makes you wonder if the panel's real job (as deflector-spike spin cover for a mostly compliant proMedia) was done before it even began its deliberations.

And meanwhile, in Shawnigan Lake residents like Kevin Searle have something to say:

...It has been all over the news for the past several years that a local contractor has applied for and received a permit from the Ministry of Environment to dump 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil a year for the next 50 years - in our watershed.

Not only is this a travesty to the community but it contravenes so many of the Ministry of Environment's own rules and regulations.

With the ministerial downsizing over the past few years the site would be self-regulated by the contractors themselves.

Do you remember Mt. Polley? Good thing the contractor - South Island Aggregates DBA Cobble Hill Holdings and owners Marty Block and Mike Kelly have a contingency fund in place for any failure of the "containment" ponds, a whopping $220,000.

I wonder how far that would have gone in Mt. Polley...

How far, indeed.

And you've got to wonder given the evidence in other spheres  how that 'self-regulation' business will go in the end.



Hugh said...

sd said...

I guess we'll have to depend on Alaska to enforce our own regulations( or lack of).

Anonymous said...

Have some thought mining donations to bc liberals played a part?
Pond is poor word it's like saying oil spill no context.

North Van's Grumps said...


Interactive Map of Vessels Port Metro Vancouver

RossK said...


Ya, that's the ticket.