VICTORIA – The open-pit, gold-and-copper mine hit by a devastating tailings pond breach that caused an environmental disaster in central British Columbia could be operating safely and near full capacity within months, the company has announced.
Steve Robertson, vice-president of corporate affairs at Imperial Metals Corp., (TSE-Ill), said Wednesday that more than 50 per cent of Mount Polley’s 370 employees would be back at work if the Vancouver-based company is granted a permit to restart operations.
“If we get a permit approving the restart of the mine in June, it’s going to take a few weeks, but within a few weeks we would be able to be up and running,” he said. “What we’re proposing is a modified restart.”
Robertson said the startup phase would not be full speed.
He said 276 people were employed doing restoration in March, but those numbers are fluctuating.
Environmental and aboriginal groups say they will oppose any decision that allows Mount Polley, blamed for spilling 24-million cubic metres of silt and water into nearby lakes and rivers last August, to resume operations.
“We don’t want it to reopen,” said Kanahus Manuel, a spokeswoman for the Williams Lake area Secwepemc Women Warriors Society.
“What I know for a fact is a small group of people can do a lot. We have these small pockets of people everywhere, and together we make up hundreds of thousands of people who are opposed to mining and destruction of our territory.”
The warriors’ society was part of protests at the Toronto Stock Exchange, B.C. government offices, the Canadian consulate in Los Angeles and Portland State University in Oregon.
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