Canada’s Mount Polley disaster sparks concern over US mines
A breach at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley Mine tailings pond in Canada’s British Columbia is giving groups fighting Northeastern Minnesota copper mines some ammunition.
The pond, which stores toxic waste from the copper and gold mine, had its dam break on Monday, releasing 10 billion litres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden fine sand, contaminating several lakes, creeks and rivers in the Cariboo region of central B.C.
Minnesota-based Mining Truth said yesterday the company that designed, engineered, and oversaw the construction of the Mount Polley tailings dam — Knight Piesold — also provided local authorities with input on the current proposal for the proposed PolyMet copper mine project near Hoyt Lakes.
Two Knight Piesold employees are listed in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement as contributors. And, in a 2013 corporate overview, PolyMet officials described the relationship as “the State of Minnesota has engaged Environmental Resource Management and Knight Piesold to assist in the completion of the EIS.”
Documents from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, however, show that Knight Piesold only reviewed an environmental impact statement for the PolyMet project, but didn’t provide any design services.
Currently the area affected by the mine tailings spill is under a state of local emergency, with population asked to refrain from drinking or using tap water. Tests on the water are expected to be released today.
Imperial Metals has been ordered to take immediate action to stop the further release of mine tailings into nearby waterways and to submit environmental impact assessments and clean-up action plans to B.C’s ministry of energy and mines. If the firm does not comply, it could face fines of up to $1 million.
Images from Cariboo Regional District’s YouTube Channel.