LETTER – Judge’s ‘stay’ on Mount Polley ignores key report recommendation

Tailings pond breach at Mount Polley mine.

Re: Stay of proceedings on Mining Watch Canada’s private prosecution on Mount Polley mining disaster.

Not only has there been a shameful failure of legal accountability here, but the government of British Columbia is setting up a new tailings pond disaster for Kamloops by failing to abide by a key recommendation of the engineering panel it convened to examine the Mount Polley Mine disaster.

Current plans for the proposed gigantic KGHM Ajax mine in the hills above Kamloops include a tailings pond which is projected to be up to five times larger than Mount Polley.

This completely ignores the engineering report, which says on p. 120:

“9. Where do we go from here?
“Improving technology to ensure against failures requires eliminating water both on and in the tailings: water on the surface, and water contained in the interparticle voids. Only this can provide the kind of failsafe redundancy that prevents releases no matter what.”

The Ajax tailings pond would be a threat to the city in perpetuity, long after the Polish mining company and current provincial politicians are gone from the scene.

Many Kamloops residents now support SSN, local First Nations who have claimed title to the mine property and in their wisdom are opposed to the approval of Ajax.



About Mel Rothenburger (6018 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on LETTER – Judge’s ‘stay’ on Mount Polley ignores key report recommendation

  1. John McNamer // March 30, 2017 at 4:53 PM // Reply

    Please take the time to read the quote in my letter from the province’s own expert engineering panel that looked into all aspects of the Mount Polley disaster.

  2. The biggest fault of Mt Polley was due to the ignorance or lack of technology from many years ago, sure there is tons more to it but…
    The fact that you would compare the tailings of the proposed Ajax to this tragedy is absolutely ludicrous, fear mongering and again ignorant!

    • Mt Polley started in 1997. Not that long ago. The engineers “failed to account for glacial silt underneath the tailings”. The same lacustrine (glacial silt) layers lie under the proposed Ajax tailings. This is in complete opposition to the Mt Polley panel’s recommendation of dry stack tailings – using no water. Proposed Ajax Mine tailings will be 3 x the size of Mt. Polley’s. Yes, they’ve learnt from Mt Polley, but the tailings should be 80% thickened, not 60%.
      The other main issue is lack of oversight. “The government’s mines monitoring and inspection program is woefully inadequate and does not protect the province from significant environmental risks”.
      There is nothing ludicrous, fear mongering or ignorant in McNamer’s letter.

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