Imperial Metals said it is not linking the issuing of permits to restart Mount Polley Mine with layoffs.
“Right now the bulk of workforce is doing the repair to the breach,” the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson told the Tribune Friday. “When that work is over with, if we don’t have any other work to go to, that’s going to mean massive layoffs.”
If the company had the permit by April 1 to restart when they have completed the reconstruction then workers could nicely transition over into operations, but that’s just a coincidence, Roberston insisted.
“We are not trying to put undue pressure on the government, we understand they have a full process they have to go through with permitting,” Robertson said. “We are not trying to hold a gun to government’s head or anything like that.”
Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said the government wants the mine to re-open, but that it needs to be done properly.
“We’ve asked the company for more detail on mid and long-term planning before we can let them re-open,” Bennett told the Tribune. “The company still needs to submit the required information and as a result, it will not be possible to make a decision by April, but hopefully by May or June.”
Once the mine’s plan is finalized and accepted by government it will have to go to First Nations and the Cariboo Mine Development Review Committee for review, followed by a 30-day public consultation period.
Bennet said Imperial Metals’ proposal to use the existing Springer pit in the short-term is reasonable, however, because the pit will only support operations for a period of months, the company will need to demonstrate how it proposes to deal with the water on site in the long-term.
Government will be following the recommendations in the independent panel report which means no longer allowing large tailings storage facilities to be used as water dams, Bennett confirmed.
Earlier this month layoffs at the mine resulted in 30 people losing positions once all the seniority bumping was completed, according to United Steelworkers Union Local 1425 president Paul French.
“If there’s an ability for the mine to get back into production, we support it and have every intention to work with the mine to get there,” French said.
Before the Aug. 4, 2014 breach the mine employed around 360 people.
Mayor Walt Cobb said Friday he has forwarded a letter to government urging the mine be re-opened as soon as possible.