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The Common Sense Canadian: Imperial boosts Mount Polley spill estimate by 10 million cubic metres

The silty mud remaining in Hazeltine Creek after Mount Polley tailings dam breach (Carol Linnitt /

In an update on the Mount Polley mine disaster, owner Imperial Metals has boosted its estimates on tailings, water and debris released into the environment by the failure of its tailings dam on August 4.

Compared with earlier estimates of 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of solid tailings, the company is now figuring the following:

Supernatant water 10.6Mm3 Tailings Slurry: tailings solids 7.3Mm3; interstitial water 6.5Mm3 Construction materials 0.6Mm3

(Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Suzuki: Canada at risk for more Mount Polley-type disasters

A resident of the region surveys Hazeltine Creek following tailings dam breach (Chris Blake)

When a tailings pond broke at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in south-central B.C., spilling millions of cubic metres of waste into a salmon-bearing stream, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett called it an “extremely rare” occurrence, the first in 40 years for mines operating here.

He failed to mention the 46 “dangerous or unusual occurrences” that B.C’s chief inspector of mines reported at tailings ponds in the province between 2000 and 2012, as well as breaches at non-operating (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Mount Polley: Interior Health issues new warning against drinking Quesnel Lake water

Debris pouring into Quesnel Lake (Photo: Farhan Umedaly, Vovo Productions /

An advisory from Interior Health yesterday raises fresh questions about the quality of drinking water from Quensnel Lake following the Mount Polley tailings dam breach.

“Although test results continue to show that water sourced from Quesnel Lake is safe to drink, reports indicate that water quality is changing as lake water and the sediment plume shifts,” the advisory notes, raising doubt about the earlier lifting of a drinking water ban for the town of Likely, on Quensnel Lake.

The reappearance of water quality concerns on Quesnel Lake may be linked to (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Why not enough ‘red tape’ = too much red ink: Mount Polley and the problem with de-regulation

CFAX 1070′s Ian Jessop interviews Damien Gillis on the Mount Polley mine disaster and consequences of the BC Liberals’ de-regulation policy on the environment and economy. Why not enough ‘red tape’ leads to too much red ink for shareholders and taxpayers. (Aug. 20 / 20 min)

The post Why not enough ‘red tape’ = too much red ink: Mount Polley and the problem with de-regulation appeared first on The Common Sense Canadian.

The Common Sense Canadian: Opinion: Mount Polley demands full Judicial Inquiry – under oath

By Ed Mankelow

The Tailings Dam breach at the Mount Polley Mine is likely the worst mining disaster that this province has seen and it could be getting worse. If the salmon and trout stocks of Quesnel Lake are impacted on their spawning journey to Quesnel Lake and feeder streams, then not only this year’s run but the runs from this year’s spawning of salmon and trout could be lost.

There are abandoned mines in BC and this is especially true with copper mines that have gone acid and leaked into rivers and lakes for years. An example would be (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Rafe: Bennett should resign over Mount Polley

In the old days of BC politics, Minister Bennett would fall on his sword, says Rafe Mair (Youtube / Got News Network)

One day, in 1863, Mr. Byrne decided to take a stroll to get a little bit of Liverpool air. As he ambled down the street he went past Mr. Boadle’s flour factory. To his considerable surprise and horror, flying out of the window on the second floor, came a barrel of flour which fell upon Mr. Byrne, knocked him to the ground, inflicting on him grievous bodily injury.

Mr. Byrne, a tad upset by all of this, decided (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Biologist documents blue film on Quesnel River following Mount Polley spill

Independent biologist Alexandra Morton has documented the appearance of a mysterious blue film on the surface of Quesnel Lake and the Quesnel River. Morton has been surveying the region’s aquatic systems – taking water samples, video and photos – in the wake of the Mount Polley tailings spill.

She posted the above video and below photos on her blog yesterday. Taken in the town of Likely, at the northwest tip of Quesnel Lake and mouth of the Quesnel River, Morton says the images correspond with an earlier sighting of the same film on another portion of the lake the day before. “It was visible wherever (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Is Mount Polley making people sick? Anecdotal clues, questions mount

Hazeltine Creek following Mount Polley Mine’s tailings dam breach (Photo: Chris Blake)

A series of anecdotal reports of illness from suffered by people in close proximity to the Mount Polley Mine tailings dam breach is prompting a local First Nation to push the premier for a study of potential airborne contaminants – and calls for an independent inquiry into the still-unfolding disaster.

“I was very sick”

Sylvia Palm is a 40-year resident of Likely, BC. Her home, near Cedar Point Park on Quesnel Lake, is 5 km northeast of Hazeltine Creek, where debris began flowing out of Polley Lake after Imperial Metals’ tailings dam burst on August 4.

At that moment, (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Mount Polley highlights risk of Red Chris, KSM tailings dam failures

Flannigan Slough, just downstream from proposed Tulsequah Chief Mine (Chris Miller)

By any measure, the giant tailings dam rupture at Imperial Metal’s Mount Polley Copper Mine is a disaster for downstream communities and wild salmon. The massive dam breach released a raging torrent of slurry mine waste into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, prompting local emergency response officials to warn downstream residents not to drink, cook with, bathe in, or come into contact with the effluent.

To make matters worse, the complete failure of the tailings dam occurred just before the annual sockeye salmon run, endangering critical spawning (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Mount Polley bankruptcy could leave BC public footing cleanup bill

Rod Marining, a resident of the region, surveys the damage after Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach

Republished with permission from

By Peter Ewart

The clean-up costs for the massive tailing pond spill at Imperial Metals’ Polley Mountain mine have been estimated by some to range between $50 and $500 million. In addition, legal action will undoubtedly be launched by individuals, businesses, and First Nations in the region which could result in hundreds of millions more in costs. And then there are law firms launching suits on behalf of Imperial stockholders who have suffered huge stock losses when (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: First Nation evicts Imperial Metals from proposed mine site

Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society members lead a rally against Imperial Metals (Youtube/ ochiese)

Read this Aug. 12 story from Global News on the Neskonlith Indian Band’s eviction notice to Mount Polley owner Imperial Metals regarding exploratory work for a proposed zinc-lead mine in their territory, near Revelstoke, BC.

VANCOUVER – The Neskonlith Indian Band has released a statement saying they have issued an eviction notice to Imperial Metals, the company that runs the Mount Polley Mine where the tailings pond breached more than a week ago.

Ruddock Creek Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Imperial Metals, is hoping to operate an underground (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: After Mount Polley, Alaska Senator doesn’t trust BC’s environmental reviews for mines

US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

The following is an open letter from Alaskan US Senator Lisa Murkowski to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Dear Secretary Kerry,

I am writing to reiterate my concerns about large-scale mining in British Columbia, which has the potential to adversely affect downstream fisheries and communities in Southeast Alaska.

The tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley Mine on August 4th has renewed the specter of environmental impacts from large-scale hardrock mineral developments in Canada that are located near transboundary rivers. While it is encouraging that Canadian officials are publicly stating that preliminary test results show contaminant levels (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Oops! Mount Polley owner may not have any environmental insurance

Aerial image of recent Mount Polley mine tailings spill (Cariboo Regional District)

Read this Aug. 12 column by Peter Ewart, raising concerns about Imperial Metals’ insurance for cleaning up its toxic tailing pond spill at Polley Lake, BC.

Does Imperial Metals have environmental insurance?

It is a statement that may come back to haunt them depending upon whether it is still valid. In 2002, in a “Plan of Arrangement” document regarding restructuring the company, Imperial Metals announced it would purchase insurance in amounts “to be adequate to protect itself against certain business and mining risks”. The document (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Toxic Mexican copper mine spill prompts water restrictions

Grupo Mexico’s Buenavista del Cobre mine

Read this Aug 11 story from on a toxic wastewater spill from a Mexican copper mine.

Mexican authorities have imposed restrictions on water supplies in some cities and towns in the northern part of the country, including the Sonora state capital of Hermosillo, following a spill of contaminated wastewater from the nearby copper mine.

Contaminated wastewater from Buenavista del Cobre, a copper mine owned by Grupo Mexico, reportedly spilled into the Bacanuchi River in north-west Mexico, killing fish and livestock.

The National Water Commission (Conagua) was quoted by as saying: “The (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Mount Polley Mine: Concerns linger amid positive water quality tests

Aerial view of debris from Mount Polley Minine tailings pond breach (Cariboo Regional District)

Read this August 9 update from on the water quality situation surrounding the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach.

The B.C. government has approved the controlled release into Hazeltine Creek of water in Polley Lake that has been backing up due to debris from the initial breach of the Mount Polley tailings pond Aug. 4.

The decision was made after Imperial Metals provided tested Polley Lake water samples that showed water quality close to historically safe levels.

The government says it will be (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Tahltan renew pressure on Imperial Metals’ Red Chris Mine in wake of Mount Polley

Tahltan First Nations and their supporters peacefully occupying a Fortune Minerals drill in the Sacred Headwaters last year

Read this August 8 story from the Terrace Standard on the renewed pressure for members of the Tahltan First Nations on Red Chris Mine, a project being developed in northwest BC by Mount Polley Mine owner Imperial Metals. The mine is close to opening but still lacks critical permits in the sensitive area of tailings pond design – a source of increased concern in the wake of the company’s recent tailings pond breach.

A group of Tahltan elders have set up a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Monica Potts responds to the big lie that increasing inequality and perpetual poverty are necessary – or indeed remotely beneficial – as elements of economic growth: Hanauer and Piketty inspire these broadsides because they are challenging, in a far more aggressive way than plutocrats and economists usually do, the conservative economic orthodoxy that has reigned since at least the 1980s. Under Ronald Reagan, we called it trickle-down economics, the idea that the men who can afford their own private jets—they’re usually men—deserve gobs of money because they provide some special entrepreneurial or innovative (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Mount Polley owner donated half a million dollars to Liberals, gets easy ride from Bennett

BC Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett (CP)

By Alex Hanson

The Bill Bennett dog and pony show has been wheeled out in the media once again, this time to cover for his long time pal and major campaign contributor Murray Edwards – the biggest shareholder at the now infamous Mount Polley Mine.

Major Liberal donor Murray Edwards

The recent debacle at Mount Polley has the potential for being the biggest environmental disaster in BC history. It has the president of the mining company, Imperial Metals, running in circles with claims that the sludge from their tailings pond is “very (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Rafe: Mount Polley Mine proves Liberal “de-regulation” doesn’t work

Blame the BC Liberals’ lax regulations for Mount Polley Mine, says Rafe Mair (BC Liberal facebook page)

The Mount Polley Mine/Imperial Metals disaster is such that one scarcely knows where to start. Fortunately, the people of British Columbia have a writer like Stephen Hume, who in the Vancouver Sun tells chapter and verse about the failings of the Ministry of Environment’s statutory obligations to regulate.

You know, there must’ve been a date back when that all of the civic dignitaries and the executives of the company and a number of politicians had a glorious day opening the mine and telling everyone how (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Government allowed massive production, toxin increase at Mount Polley Mine before tailings pond disaster

Aerial image of tailings pond breach (Cariboo Regional District)

Mount Polley’s tailing pond breach is the worst environmental disaster in BC History. It will be a BC Day that goes down in infamy and, from the environmental perspective, may be one of the world’s worst mining disasters when all is said and done.

At 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million of slurry, it appears this tailings pond release is one of the largest of its kind in history, anywhere in the world.

Disaster follows massive increase in toxic tailings

Mount Polley owner Imperial Metals, in its most recent (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Aerial video of burst Mout Polley Mine tailings pond

Watch this aerial footage of yesterday’s Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach, courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District. The failure of Imperial Metals’ gold-copper mine tailings pond prompted an emergency water use ban and threatens fish in the Quesnel and Fraser rivers.

This from the Regional District yesterday:

The Cariboo Regional District has received the following information from the Helicopter reconnaissance taken this morning.

A small amount of debris backed into Polley Lake. The main slurry flow went down Hazletine Creek where it meets Quesnel Lake. The slurry and a large debris pile appear to be stationary at this (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: BC mine’s tailings pond breach forces emergency water use ban

Photo: Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre facebook page

The apparent breach of a tailings pond connected Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley Mine, near Likely, BC, has led to an emergency water ban from The Cariboo Regional District. The following update was issued by the district on its Emergency Operations facebook page this morning:

The Cariboo Regional District has received the following information from the Helicopter reconnaissance taken this morning.

A small amount of debris backed into Polley Lake. The main slurry flow went down Hazletine Creek where it meets Quesnel Lake. The slurry and a large debris pile appear to be (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: KSM Mine promises epic gold, copper, jobs…and waste

The location of one of KSM’s three proposed open pit mines (Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska)

The $5.3 billion proposed Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine, which received BC government approval yesterday, boasts one of the world’s largest gold and copper deposits. But with big promises of jobs and ore come serious concerns over the staggering volumes of tailings and acid rock drainage the three-pronged mine could produce.

Its 2 billion tonnes of tailings, for instance, represent 6-7 times the volume slated to be produced by nearby Red Chris Mine.

Located in the northwest corner of the province, the project is made up of three neighbouring mountains from (Read more…)

The Common Sense Canadian: Liberal govt hubris handed Tsilhqot’in Nation bigger legal victory

The statue ‘Ivstitia’ (Justice) guards the entrance of the Supreme Court of Canada (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The BC Liberal Government just couldn’t leave well enough alone. In choosing to appeal the Tsilhqot’in First Nation’s BC Supreme Court victory over land title and rights, the government set in motion a chain of events that could have profound consequences for its future resource development plans.

The Tsilhqot’in won a landmark legal victory affirming title and rights over 200,000 hectares of their traditional territory, west of Williams Lake, at the BC Supreme Court in 2007 (with limited rights to an even larger area). The 17-year case was the longest (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: SHAME: Harper Government Whitewashed Colombian Human Rights Abuses

by: Obert Madondo | May 20, 2014

To quote Amnesty International Canada’s Alex Neve: Canadian mining companies lead the mining world; but none aspire to lead the world in mining-related human rights abuses.

That’s serious human rights abuses committed by Canadian mining companies particularly in the developing world.

The Harper government had both the opportunity and obligation to highlight the serious mining-related human rights abuses happening in Colombia in its third annual Human Rights Impact Report for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The report is mandatory under the Canada-Colombia free trade deal, signed by the Conservatives and Colombian government (Read more…)