National News

First Nation to review B.C. mine tailings pond

By James Keller, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - A British Columbia company behind a mine tailings spill has signed an agreement with a First Nation that will see an independent engineering firm review a tailings facility at a separate project.

The agreement between Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX:III) and the Tahltan Central Council ends a blockade of the company's Red Chris gold and copper mine, where workers had been prevented from entering by a group of Tahltan elders for more than two weeks.

The tailings dam at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley mine in central B.C. failed earlier this month, releasing millions of cubic metres of waste water and silt into several lakes and rivers. The spill raised concerns about the potential impact on humans and the environment, placing the company and the entire mining industry under increased scrutiny.

Several days later, a group of Tahltan elders known as the Klabona Keepers established a blockade of the Red Chris site, which is located in northwestern B.C. and expected to open by the end of the year.

Imperial Metals issued a news released on Tuesday announcing that it would pay for an independent engineer, selected by the Tahltan Central Council, to review the tailings facility for the Red Chris mine and report back by Sept. 24.

The company has agreed to address any issues identified in the review "to the reasonable satisfaction" of the central council.

Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch acknowledged that the Mount Polley spill has affected the company's entire operations.

"We're having to work with our neighbours," Kynoch said in an interview. "It (the Mount Polley spill) is having an effect on all tailings dams in British Columbia."

There are several investigations into the Mount Polley spill, including a review by a panel of experts appointed by the provincial government.

The province has also ordered inspections of all tailings dams in B.C., including the one at the Red Chris mine, by December. The review with the Tahltan is in addition to that government-mandated inspection, Kynoch said.

The blockade was not endorsed by the council, but meetings over the weekend included the company, the central council and the Klabona Keepers.

Rhoda Quock, a spokeswoman for the Klabona Keepers, said the blockade ended Saturday night. She said she's confident the review will answer the group's questions and concerns.

"It's a good agreement — if it wasn't, the blockade would still be up," she said in an interview.

"That's what we want, our own independent review."

The Tahltan Central Council has been negotiating a benefit agreement with Imperial Metals, and Kynoch said those negotiations are continuing.

Central council president Chad Day was not available for an interview Tuesday.

Day posted an open letter on the council's website shortly after the spill, saying the Mount Polley spill raises "new questions and concerns" that Imperial Metals would need to address.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Terrace public school students back in the classroom Monday
 
Serious crash on Zero Avenue
 
Henrik, Daniel Sedin talk 2014 season, new teammates, and their weekend in Agassiz
Amazing Grace to sail the Van Isle 360
 
Watch your speed in school zones, Chilliwack RCMP warn
 
UPDATE: RCMP confirm family connection in fatal accident, but not releasing names
New RDCK boardroom furniture installed
 
Ducker challenges for mayor in Esquimalt
 
Coun. Hira Chopra to run for Alberni mayor

Community Events, September 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 19 edition online now. Browse the archives.