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Sullivan Mine tailings ponds to be inspected

CAROLYN GRANT

As a direct consequence of the tailings dam breach at the Mt. Polley Mine earlier this month, the chief inspector of mines has issued an order to all mining companies to conduct a Dam Safety Inspection for every tailings storage facility at a permitted mine by Dec. 1, 2014. Under the order, those inspections must be reviewed by an independent, qualified, third-party, professional engineer from a firm not associated with the tailings facility.

There are currently 98 permitted tailings impoundments at 60 operating and closed metal and coal mines in B.C. One of those permit holders is Teck, which continues to maintain the Sullivan Mine tailings impoundment in Kimberley.

The area of tailings impoundment is approximately 583 hectares, which includes both remediated land and tailings ponds, containing material left over from the mining and processing of ore.

Chris Stannell, senior communications specialist with Teck Resources Limited says the company supports the order from the BC Government.

"We support the steps announced by the B.C. government and will work with the province to meet all inspection and documentation requirements," he said.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of people and communities and we have extensive measures to safeguard the tailings facilities at the Sullivan reclamation site.

"Our tailings dams at the Sullivan reclamation site are inspected by technical staff daily, formal dam safety inspections are conducted annually by an external Engineer of Record, and third-party reviews by an independent geotechnical expert are performed every five to seven years at each facility. The most recent formal dam safety inspection was carried out in May 2014."

Teck will pay for the external inspection of its dam facilities, Stannell said.

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