MiningWatch to launch court action for Mount Polley disaster

Imperial Metals escaped charges from its 2014 Mount Polley tailings breach near the city of Williams Lake, but the company isn’t going to dodge new legal actions coming its way.

Today, MiningWatch, backed by more than a dozen of other non-profit organizations including Amnesty International, Clayoquot Action, and Wilderness Committee, announced its plans to file a private prosecution under Canada’s Fisheries Act against Mount Polley Mining Corporation and the British Columbia government.

The Ottawa-based NGO expressed concerns over the fact that more than two years have passed since the accident that poured 21 million cubic metres of wastewater and mine tailings into Quesnel Lake and caused major changes to the ecosystem, and still no state authority has brought forward any sanctions or penalties.

“This sends the wrong signal to the industry across the country and undermines public confidence in the capacity of our regulatory system to work effectively to protect our environment,” MiningWatch’s Ugo Lapointe told The Globe & Mail.

Lapointe added that his organization is prepared to pursue the case “to full trial if necessary,” but is hoping the Crown will take over the prosecution given how expensive the process could be.

Imperial Metals' (TSE:III) Mount Polley Mine is an open pit copper and gold operation in south central British Columbia. In June 2016, it received authorization to return to its normal activities making use of its repaired and buttressed Tailings Storage Facility.