Mount Polley Spill Could Affect Entire Mining Industry

August 8, 2014


On Monday, millions of cubic meters of waste spewed from a tailings pond into central British Columbia waterways at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine, owned by Imperial Metals Corp. Though the spill is being viewed as an accident, an investigation is underway to determine the cause and what impact it will have for the mining industry.


"We'll have to wait for the report to find out what the underlying cause was, and everybody is very interested in the findings," Angela Waterman, vice-president of environment and technical affairs for the Mining Association of B.C. told the Globe & Mail. "And from the findings there will always be learning, and from that may come new recommendations for industry".


Though protect groups have routinely complained that mines do not undergo nearly enough inspections, a point Waterman disputes. However, government cuts to staff and inspections have led many to suspect that mines throughout Canada are operating on dangerous grounds.


One of the most vocal protesters of mining in Canada has been First Nations, a collection of Indian tribes that are often left with the fallout from mining accidents.


"A spill is a spill is a spill," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs told the Globe and Mail. "It's an issue of toxic chemicals – oil, mining sludge – versus water, the environment."


Philip called on the province to order an emergency assessment of all tailing ponds believing that there has been a concerted effort to downplay the effects of the spill and that too many questions remain unanswered about problems the Mount Polley mine may have had for years.


The incident has put Imperial Metals under the media microscope and now more attention is being paid to the Red Chime mine in northwest B.C. and the Ruddock Creek project in southeastern B.C.