Contents from a tailings pond is pictured going down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. on August, 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C.’s Mount Polley Mine to suspend operations

Company blames declining copper prices for May shutdown

Imperial Metals announced Monday it will suspend operations at Mount Polley Mine near Likely at the end of May, 2019 due to falling copper prices.

The suspension will impact between 110 and 115 union employees, said Dan Will, business agent for United Steelworkers Local 1-2017. Many of those impacted workers live in Williams Lake and the surrounding area.

“It’s not good for the community, it’s not good for the workers, not good for anybody” said Will, who received the news via a phone call Monday from mine manager Dale Reimer.

“It was news to the union but we’ve known that the price of copper has been going down.”

In a news release, Imperial Metals said the suspension plan includes milling of low grade stockpiles which is targeted to extend operations to the spring shutdown. There will be no impact to the mine’s ongoing environmental monitoring and remediation program in relation to the 2014 spill, the company confirmed.

Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch said about 250 people will be impacted in total.

“About two thirds of our workforce is unionized and about a third aren’t,” he said Tuesday.

Read More: Disciplinary hearings announced regarding Mount Polley Mine breach

Read More: Mount Polley and USW reach agreement

During a public meeting held in Williams Lake in December, Lyn Anglin, vice president of environmental affairs said the on-going dredging of the Springer Pit, which was the temporary holding facility following the breach, continued to be delayed. She said they had hoped they would be able to use the Springer Pit to resume mining for new material.

Kynoch said while the inability to mine the Springer Pit for more material is a factor, it is the price of copper that drove the decision to suspend operations.

“If the price of copper had been over $3 we could have found a way to keep going but at less than $3 it doesn’t work,” he said. “We just couldn’t figure out a way that we could get through this year. It still has some good years left but it needs some capital to get to those years. There’s more ore but we need to move some stuff out before we can get to it.”

Reacting Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said the suspension of operations will be devastating to workers, the community and families.

“This affects over a 1,000 people when you consider suppliers, truck drivers and schools, it will affect everybody in some way in business,” Barnett said. “It’s a sad thing when anything like this happens.”

While the price of copper is down, Barnett said business are struggling to survive added costs such as the new employer tax, carbon tax and income tax.

“Even the permitting process for permitting these days is an absolute nightmare,” Barnett added. “I’m just very concerned about the atmosphere out there for all resource industries in British Columbia.”

Mount Polley mine is located in south-central British Columbia, 56 kilometres northeast of Williams Lake.

The Mount Polley mine is owned and operated by Mount Polley Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Imperial Metals.

This story was updated Tuesday with comments from Imperial Metals and MLA Donna Barnett



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Williams Lake cow boss statue replacement options explored

Statue was modelled after Evan Howarth, former cow boss at Cotton Ranch

HAPHAZARD HISTORY: Ox team freighters play important role in Cariboo Gold Rush

The Cariboo Wagon Road was to provide a direct and dependable route

Williams Lake-filmed ‘Because We Are Girls’ to be streamed free on NFB website

Acclaimed movie among seven documentaries to debut at NFB.ca in July

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read