Opinion: Extensive safeguards already in place for B.C. mining industry – by Angela Waterman (Vancouver Sun – August 20, 2014)


Best practices: Tailings dam breach was an extremely rare occurrence

Angela Waterman is Vice-president of Environment and Technical Affairs at The Mining Association of British Columbia.

The breach of the tailings dam at the Mount Polley Mine is an unfortunate event that is of great concern to the Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC) and all our member companies, just as it is to people across Canada.

After this incident, the public, the government and the mining industry all share the same objective: to find the root cause of what happened and determine if there are changes required or actions to be taken based.

The B.C. mining industry is committed to producing the materials the world needs in a way that is safe and responsible for both people and the environment. MABC, its members, and mining associations and companies across Canada are closely following the ongoing investigation.

Tailings dams across Canada are operated under stringent regulations and are subject to frequent and rigorous inspections, and this kind of incident is extremely rare. There has not been a comparable event in Canada in over 20 years. Globally, the general statistics related to likelihood of dam failure is between one in a million and one in 100,000 per dam year.

Tailing ponds and mining operations are designed to be safe for employees, communities and the environment. Mines are regulated under numerous pieces of both federal and provincial legislation and regulation including the Mines Act and Environmental Management Act. The Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines and the provincial regulatory framework are among the most thorough in the world.

All dams are subject to formal annual inspections. All dams must have comprehensive plans in place that outline the responsibilities of all parties and the safety procedures for monitoring and response. Inspections are wide-ranging and follow the Association of Professional Engineers of BC Guidelines and the Canadian Dam Association Guidelines.

For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.vancouversun.com/Opinion+Extensive+safeguards+already+place+mining+industry/10135269/story.html