Following the Mount Polley Tailings Pond Breach in August 2014, the Government of British Columbia, with the support of the Soda Creek Indian Band (Xats’ull First Nation) and the Williams Lake Indian Band, ordered an independent engineering investigation and inquiry into the breach, and an independent third-party review of all 2014 Dam Safety Inspections for every tailings pond at a permitted mine in the province. The independent investigation and inquiry was authorized under the Mount Polley Investigation and Inquiry Regulation, issued pursuant to Section 8 of the Ministry of Energy and Mines Act.
The Independent Expert Engineering Review Panel (Expert Panel) completed an investigation into the root cause of the Mount Polley Tailings Facility Breach and made seven recommendations to improve practice and reduce the potential for future failures, in their report on the breach. Government accepted all of the recommendations and committed to implementing them.
Addressing these recommendations required a review of the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia (the Code). To review the Code, the Minister appointed members of the Code Review Committee under Section 34 of the Mines Act, with the Chief Inspector of Mines as the Chair.
The Code Review Committee held a public feedback period in support of the Tailings Technical Review portion of the Code Review, inviting submissions on how best to implement the Expert Panel’s recommendations through potential changes to the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in B.C.
Additionally, there will be a public comment period in support of the Health and Safety Technical Review part of the Code Review which will be held during summer 2016.
July 15, 2015 to October 16, 2015
- 1513 submissions received overall
- 1364 were form letters from the Sierra Club’s online campaign
- 100 were received as a result of an online campaign from the Wilderness Committee
- 49 individual submissions
Input leads to action:
- The Province released the inspections and third-party reviews of TSFs at other permitted mines in British Columbia.
- The TSF portion of the code review is expected to be completed in 2016 and revisions could be legally in force by summer 2016. The health and safety technical review is expected to continue through 2016, with all revisions complete and in force by spring 2017.