There are more than 120 tailings dams across British Columbia today, holding back a century of toxic mining detritus. Unless this number can be reduced, an average of two B.C. dams are predicted to fail in each coming decade.
The way to avoid this was laid out clearly in the wake of the Mount Polley mine disaster. For taxpayers and the environment to be protected, an independent review panel of three geotechnical experts concluded B.C. must move to safer ways of processing and storing tailings — the chemical and metal-rich byproducts of mineral processing.
Rejecting the notion that “business as usual can continue,” the review panel was clear that economic considerations must not trump long-term safety concerns. But even after multiple investigations and dozens of recommendations adopted by the B.C. government, there are indications that business as usual continues.
Despite calls for the best available technology to be used at new mines, at least three planned big open pit metal mines propose to use the same wet tailings approach used at Mount Polley.
These northwest mines are more vulnerable to acid rock drainage (pollution that can occur when disturbed rocks are exposed to air and moisture) than Mount Polley. And the proposed tailing ponds are much larger, with dams up to six times as high and reservoirs holding 30 times as much water and waste.
All of which prompts the question: almost three years after the August 2014 Mount Polley disaster, what has changed to prevent B.C.’s next big dam disaster?
For the rest of this article, click here: https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/04/12/Mount-Polley-Disaster-Changes/