Union responds to Mount Polley Mine restart

The union representing workers at Mount Polley Mine is welcoming the mine’s restricted restart approval announced Thursday.

The union representing workers at Mount Polley Mine is welcoming the mine’s restricted restart approval announced Thursday.

“I just got off the phone with mine management and they are starting to recall today approximately 30 maintenance and operations (employees),” said Paul French, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-425.

“We are quite pleased it’s happened sooner than later. We were hoping for sooner.”

Since the Aug. 4, 2014 tailings impoundment breach, approximately 75 union workers have remained employed at the site, French added, noting more workers will be called back once various permits are approved. “We are hopeful everything will proceed on track,” he said.

Imperial Metals called the restart an important milestone and the first step toward normalcy.

“It’s important for Mount Polley Mine and the community, which has relied heavily on the mine, not only for the employment but for the business opportunities,” said  Steve Robertson, vice-president of corporate affairs for Imperial Metals.

Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said the permit is a conditional restrictive restart of operations and the first of three conditional steps the company will go through. An updated surface and groundwater monitoring plan must be submitted for approval by July 31, 2015 and a five-year mine plan and reclamation plan is due by Sept. 30, 2015.

With the restart, the mine cannot use the tailings storage facility that breached, but will use the Springer Pit, which the permit stipulates water levels must remain 20 metres below the top of the lowest pit edge.

“We are estimating the Springer Pit will be full sometime this fall,” Bennett said.

Government has also ordered the company pay an additional $6.1 million reclamation security.