Mount Polley Mine will need a water discharge management plan regardless if the company gets the go-ahead to restart the mine, Imperial Metals vice-president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson said.
“In an average year there are six million cubic metres of water that need to be dealt with,” Robertson told the Tribune during an interview.
“Whether or not we get the restart, the rain continues to fall and becomes contact water once it hits the mine site.”
The snow pack is one per cent of normal which could work to the mine’s advantage, he added.
That water balance, however, is going to result in the need to release water some time this summer.
In the short term, the company is proposing two possibilities for water release.
The first would be to release water into Hazeltine Creek, while the second option would be to send the water in a pipeline for release directly into Quesnel Lake.
Restoration work to rebuild the channel of Hazeltine Creek is only nearing completion and is still very fresh, Robertson said.
“We are going to start putting the water from Polley Lake into Hazeltine channel, so that’s why we’ve put another option up for discussion to put it in the pipeline. There’s a possibility that putting additional water into Hazeltine Creek could cause additional erosion until it’s fully established.”
Before any water is released to the environment its quality will be monitored for things such as pH and total suspended solids.
“Those components will have to be within the parameters that are set by the Ministry of Environment before we can release that water into the environment,” Robertson said.
Prior to the Aug. 4, 2014 tailings impoundment breach, Mount Polley had a short-term temporary permit to allow the company to test water for discharging, but it never got to the point of actually discharging water before the breach.
Last week the company presented its start-up plan to the mine review development committee in Williams Lake, and now the public has 30 days to respond to the plan with comments.
Hard copies of the plan are available at the Likely Public Library, Williams Lake Public library and on the Ministry of Energy and Mines website.
In the temporary restart plan, tailings and water will be stored in the Springer pit.
The proposed total mine feed of 12,000 tons a day will come from the Caribou pit, adjacent to the Springer pit, from underground which will provide 1,000 tons a day, and from active stock piles on site.
As of last payroll period there were still 276 people on the pay roll at the mine, Robertson said.
Community meetings are planned in Williams Lake on Wednesday, April 22 and at Sugar Cane on Thursday, April 23.