BC to Implement All Independent Panel Recommendations Following Mount Polley

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on February 23rd, 2015 4:16am

BC to Implement All Independent Panel Recommendations Following Mount Polley
Teresa Matich, Copper Investing News

At the end of January, the BC government stated that it would “act immediately” on the results of an independent panel’s investigation into the massive tailings dam breach at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine last summer. On Wednesday, Bill Bennet, BC’s Minister of Energy and Mines, confirmed that the government will implement all recommendations from the panel.

So far, the government has set a requirement for all miners with tailings storage facility (TSF) dams to confirm by June 30 whether foundation materials similar to those at Mount Polley exist below their dams. If so, the companies must also confirm that sufficient tests and investigations have been completed. Furthermore, they must establish independent tailings dam review boards if they’ve not done so already.

“The panel identified the cause of the failure and also raised other issues around the design, construction and operation of the tailings storage facility,” said the Minister in a statement. “Both the cause of the failure and these other issues are addressed through the panel’s recommendations. We will implement all of these recommendations to ensure our mining industry is safe and can continue to grow and create jobs for families.”
The government is still planning to initiate a code review in coming weeks in order to look at how to best implement recommendations from the panel. All in all, the panel made seven points addressing what needs to be changed. They include:

  *  A phased approach to implementing best available technologies for TSFs
  *  Improving corporate governance (e.g., corporations proposing TSFs should be members of the Mining Association of Canada)
  *  Upping corporate design commitments for TSFs (future permit applications will need to be based on a bankable feasibility study)
  *  Enhanced safety regulations through the use of tailings review boards
  *  Strengthening current regulatory operations to identify other TSFs at risk
  *  Encouraging the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia to create guidelines for “improved site characterization for tailings dams”
   * Improving upon the current Canadian Dam Association safety guidelines

To be sure, the Mount Polley tailings dam breach has had a lasting effect on the mining industry in British Columbia. Other projects, such as Pacific Booker Minerals’ Morrison mine, have been cited as hinging on results of the Mount Polley review — a decision on Pacific Booker’s project was delayed pending results of the investigation. For its part, Pacific Booker has already responded to the panel recommendations, noting that it completed a feasibility study for its TSF at the Morrison project back in 2009.

Still, it certainly makes sense to reassess mining policy in the wake of such an event. Although stricter rules could mean longer timelines when it comes to project approvals, it’s important that the province regain public confidence in the mining industry.

For investors, the change will ultimately mean more secure footing when ensuring that projects have social license in BC — an issue that’s becoming more and more important to consider when investing in mining projects. Certainly, investors looking at projects in the province will be keeping an eye out for more details following the government’s code review.


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