Mount Polley mine has been an important economic contributor in the Cariboo region since commencing operations in 1997.
The mine operated as a conventional open pit until 2014 when underground mining commenced in the Boundary zone. The mill capacity averages 22,000 tonnes per day.
Mount Polley Mining Corporation (MPMC) provides more than 300 high paying jobs which have supported and enhanced the lives of many local families for over a generation. MPMC and its employees support a myriad of local businesses and contribute to local communities throughout the Cariboo region.
During the 12 months which followed the tailings storage facility (TSF) breach on Aug. 4, 2014, mine employees, First Nations members and local contractors worked at the monumental task to first secure the site and then to restore and rehabilitate the areas which had been affected.
The TSF was re-engineered and repaired in spring 2015 to allow for the storage of surface water. By late summer 2015, Hazeltine and lower Edney creeks had been extensively rehabilitated.
The mine received the required authorization to allow site contact water to be discharged into Hazeltine Creek through a newly constructed water treatment plant. Discharged water is carefully and frequently monitored to confirm the receiving environment is protected. Rigorous water balance management is fundamental to sustainable mine operations.
Mount Polley recommenced operations on Aug. 5, 2015, which was a tremendous achievement and a reflection of the quality of the rehabilitation work. The current approval, which requires that mine water and tailings be deposited in the Springer pit, will allow for operations through to April 2016.
The mine is currently in the application process requesting a return to normalized operations using the repaired TSF.
The application contemplates four years of operations at normal mining and mill rates. It will be necessary to remove the water and tailings from the Springer pit by early 2018 to provide access to ore within the pit.
The TSF and underlying foundation have been subjected to intensive geotechnical site investigation and dam stability analysis. The TSF is now subject to an ongoing independent review by a newly established Independent Engineering Review Panel.
One of the key modifications resulting from the investigations has been additional buttressing of the TSF. The results and information that has been gathered as a result of these investigations are important to the consideration of the current application for the mine to use the TSF.
Over the past year and a half, employees at Mount Polley mine have committed extraordinary time and effort to assure that effects of the breach were successfully remediated as quickly and effectively as possible. MPMC staff and management are now focused on working with the First Nations and local communities to obtain the necessary permits to continue operations for the next four years. Mount Polley has a large resource that is expected to support continued operations beyond the four years, dependent on the copper price and approvals.