Workers at Canada’s Mount Polley copper and gold mine in central British Columbia could be back on the job as early as this week, which should come as a relief to nearly 400 employees who have been off work since a tailings breach last summer shut down the operation.
That is according to Bill Bennett, B.C. mines minister, who told Canadian Press on Tuesday that Imperial Metals (TSX:III), the mine owner and operator, has provided all the information needed for the province to issue a mining permit needed for a restart.
But environmental and aboriginal groups are saying they will oppose any decision that allows Mount Polley, blamed for spilling 24-million cubic metres of silt and water into nearby lakes and rivers in August last year, to resume operations.
Imperial applied for a restricted operational permit in January that would allow it to start up the mill and process ore at about half the normal rate. The company was also asking permission to deposit a maximum 4 million tonnes of tailings into the Springer Pit, so as not to include the use of the tailings storage facility to impound tailings from the operation.
Earlier this year Imperial Metals released a summary of its testing program on affected waters and sediments since the breach, concluding it was impossible to find toxicity that could be attributed to metals concentrations.
You can see the latest update on restoration work in this video.