Tailings pond breach at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley Mine

Image from Cariboo Regional District's YouTube channel

A night time breach at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley Mine tailings pond has resulted in a large debris field and water ban in the British Columbia interior affecting 300 residents.

Vancouver Sun reports that about 5 million cubic metres of contaminated water were released at the Imperial Metals' operation.

Aerial footage of the Mount Polley tailings breach >>

The Cariboo Regional District say the effected waterways are Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek. The water ban includes recreational activities. The small town of Likely, BC, at the head of Quesnel Lake, is near the mine.

The Cariboo Regional District warns that the area is unstable, especially at the base of the debris flow. People are strongly advised to stay away from this area on foot, by vehicle or by boat.

Campers near the immediate area were evacuated by rescue personnel. There were no reports of injuries.

Imperial Metals' (TSE:III) Mount Polley Mine is a open pit copper and gold operation in south central British Columbia. Last year the mine produced 38.5 million lbs of copper and 45,000 oz of gold. The mine commenced operations in 1997.

After the tailings dam broke, slurry and debris flowed down Hazletine Creek to where it meets Quesnel Lake. The sudden release of water was so great that Hazleton Creek, which was originally about four feet wide, is now up to 150 feet wide.

Updates are available at the Cariboo Regional District's Emergency Operations Facebook page.

Image from Cariboo Regional District

Image from Cariboo Regional District YouTube channel

Image from Cariboo Regional District's YouTube channel

Image from Cariboo Regional District's YouTube Channel

Image from Cariboo Regional District's YouTube channel

Story has been updated as more information is available.

DISCLOSURE: The reporter Michael McCrae is an investor in Imperial Metals.