Mount Polley Mine’s long-term water management plan to discharge from the mine site into Quesnel Lake has been approved.
Reacting to the news, Likely resident Doug Watt said Friday local residents and people living on the lake are “very disappointed” in the decision because it means the mine can continue discharging into Quesnel Lake.
Watt has participated as a member of the Cariboo Mine Development Review Committee that reviewed the draft application and said he knew that it would be approved.
“I can tell you that some of the conditions that were put into the draft permit were fairly stringent in trying to make sure the company stopped the discharge by the end of 2022,” Watt said. “Some of our concerns that we wanted to ensure the company was working at the highest standard and working very hard to get out of the lake were taken into consideration in the draft permit.”
Imperial Metals vice-president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson told the Tribune Friday the approval is good news for the mine.
“We have been working toward this for a long time,” Robertson said. “There has been a lot of community input and we are happy with the result that we have the permit now and can actually move forward. Having the permit will enable us to better manage water going forward.”
The mine life currently goes until 2022, Robertson confirmed.
Now that the plan has been approved the company will have to build a pipeline that will go from the water treatment plant to Quesnel Lake. It is anticipated that the pipeline will be in place before winter, Robertson said.
When asked whether the treatment plant will need to be updated or replaced, Robertson said the company is doing a study now to examine if the plant will continue to meet the performance benchmarks and if not, what changes will be necessary.
The study will be completed within three months,he added.
United Steelworkers Local 1-425 president Paul French said the approval is good news for employees at the mine.
“Obviously the mine has met the requirements of the Ministry of Environment,” French said.
In a press release the Ministry of Environment said the approval of the permit came from an independent statutory decision maker.
“The statutory decision-maker takes into account all comments and feedback received when making a final decision on a permit application and may incorporate certain conditions into the permit accordingly,” the ministry noted.