Safety inspection reports of tailings dams due

A deadline approaches for tailings dams inspection reports, the mines ministry has hired a company to oversee the review.

As the Dec. 1 deadline approaches for mines in B.C. to submit independent dam safety inspection reports, the Ministry of Energy and Mines announced it has selected Hatch Ltd. to assist with the oversight of the review process.

Currently there are 98 permitted tailings impoundments at 60 operating and closed metal and coal mines in B.C. All of them will be required to submit the inspection reports.

“We will know the final status of the submissions by midnight on Dec. 1, which is the deadline set by the Chief of Inspector of Mines,” ministry spokesperson, David Haslam told the Tribune.

Normally permitted mines are required to conduct a dam safety inspection each year, but when the tailings impoundment breached at Mount Polley Mine on Aug. 4, releasing 17 million cubic metres of water and 8 million cubic metres of tailings, Chief Inspector of Mines Al Hoffman issued an order requiring every mining facility in the province submit reports by the deadline.

New was the requirement that the inspections be reviewed by an independent qualified third-party professional engineer from a firm not associated with their tailings facilities, the ministry said.

“The order also included a requirement for a third-party review of the dam consequence classifications by Dec. 1, 2014,” the ministry noted in a press release. “A dam’s consequence classification is based on the potential impact to population, environment, cultural values and infrastructure should it fail, and is set according to the Canadian Dam Association Dam Safety Guidelines.”

Under the order, mines with high-, very-high or extreme consequence classifications will be required to submit Dam Break Inundation Studies and Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans which have been reviewed by a qualified professional engineer.

Hatch Ltd. was awarded the $305,000 contract and will assist the Ministry of Energy and Mines with reviewing all of the submissions to ensure consistency and compliance, work with First Nations and establish a platform to release all submissions to the public in approximately eight weeks.

Additionally members of the public and informed interest groups wishing to make submissions to the three-member independent Mount Polley Mine review panel have until Dec. 7, 2014.

Information on how to submit information can be found at www.mountpolleyreviewpanel.ca.