Bennett has no intention of following recommendations of Mount Polley expert review panel

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on May 3rd, 2015 11:11am

The truth comes out…. Bennett has no intention of following the recommendations of the Mount Polley expert panel when it comes to wet tailings. And in fact is trying to indicate a different recommendation from the expert report, which was very clear. These quotes are completely in contradiction to Bennett’s recent statement that all the panel recommendations would be implemented.

So looks like the plan for BC is “Business as Usual.”

The Vancouver Sun, April 28, 2015

Canadian, American groups call on B.C. to end underwater storage of mine tailings
Mines minister says that is not going happen in the province, or likely anywhere in Canada

by Gordon Hoekstra

Dozens of Canadian and American environmental groups, First Nations and businesses, as well as scientists and individuals, have called on the B.C. government to end the use of storing mine waste under water and behind earth-and-rock dams.

But Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said that is not going to happen in British Columbia. “I don’t think that’s in the cards for B.C. — or any other province in Canada — to adopt a policy where all you can use to manage tailings is dry-stack tailings,” Bennett said in an interview.

The demand from the U.S. and Canadian groups — sent in a letter Tuesday to Bennett and B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak — came as a result of Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings dam failure last summer.

The dam collapse released millions of cubic metres of water and tailings — finely-ground rock waste containing potentially toxic metals — into the Quesnel Lake watershed in the B.C. Interior.

The groups say their demand is based on a recommendation from the B.C. government-appointed expert panel to move away from the conventional method of storing tailings underwater behind earth dams.

Tasked with investigating the Mount Polley failure, the panel suggested a method called dry stacking, where the water is pressed from the tailings, which are then compacted and stacked. The panel also suggested backfilling underground mines and using old mine pits to store waste.

The diverse group of 90 organizations and individuals that signed the letter to the provincial government includes the Ketchikan Indian Community, Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, federal Green party leader Elizabeth May, University of Washington fisheries biologist Daniel E. Schindler, author and University of B.C. anthropologist Wade Davis, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Sierra Club of B.C.

“Part of our frustration here is we haven’t seen a strong commitment to the Mount Polley panel recommendations yet. We only hear vague statements about best available technologies,” said Chris Zimmer, Alaskan campaign director for River Without Borders.

Bennett said the expert panel did not recommend dry stacking exclusively, and noted that sometimes using water storage makes sense, particularly if a mine needs every drop of water to run their operations.

Instead, he said the bottom line from the report for him is about reducing water storage of mine waste where you can, and reducing the risk of failure by increasing safety factors.

He noted that both the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists and the Mining Association of Canada are examining how to increase safety, and the province expects to launch a review of its dam safety regulations this summer.

The regulation review is expected to take about a year, Bennett said.


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