Mount Polley Tailings Breach

On August 4, 2014, a breach occurred at the tailings storage facility (TSF) at the Mount Polley mine near the town of Likely. Shortly afterwards, three separate investigations into this incident were launched: an independent expert engineering panel was established to determine the root cause of the breach, the Chief Inspector of Mines conducted an investigation and the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service is conducting an investigation.

Independent Expert Engineering Panel

The independent expert engineering panel has completed their investigation on the root cause of the breach and presented their findings on January 30, 2015.

Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett has appointed a Code Review Committee that is determining how best to implement the 26 recommendations stemming from the independent expert engineering panel and the Chief Inspector of Mines’ investigations. The public will have the opportunity to provide written submissions on implementing the recommendations to the Code Review Committee.

Chief Inspector of Mines' Investigation Report

The Chief Inspector of Mines has completed his investigation into the tailings storage facility breach and presented the findings on December 17, 2015. The investigation report contains the process and findings of the investigation and the 19 recommendations made by the Chief Inspector of Mines.

Conservation Officer Investigation

The Conservation Officer Service investigation is currently ongoing and will determine if charges will be laid for contraventions under the Environmental Management Act.

Approval to Return to Full Operations

On June 23, 2016, Mount Polley Mining Corporation received a Mines Act permit amendment allowing for a return to full operations at the Mount Polley mine. The application was approved following a technical review process with the Cariboo Mine Development Review Committee as well as a public comment period.

The public notification was advertised by Mount Polley Mining Corporation in the BC Gazette and Williams Lake Tribune. Hard copies of the application were available in the Likely, Williams Lake and Big Lake libraries.

Further Information

The Ministry of Energy and Mines, in collaboration with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, recently launched the B.C. Mine Information website. The new website contains information such as permits and permit amendments, inspection reports, and dam safety inspections/reviews for Mount Polley and other permitted major mines in British Columbia.

The Ministry of Environment has an incident response website that posts information on Mount Polley such as water quality testing results and remediation efforts.

Dam Safety Inspections – 2014

In response to the Mount Polley breach, on August 18, 2014, the Chief Inspector of Mines issued an order to have mining companies complete and submit a Dam Safety Inspection for every TSF at a permitted mine at an accelerated deadline of December 1, 2014.  Because Mount Polley had numerous investigations ongoing, the mine was not required to submit a Dam Safety Review for 2014.

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