Courtesy of the BC Government:
Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett has announced that government will act immediately on key recommendations of the independent panel that investigated the Mount Polley tailings storage facility (TSF) failure and launch a code review to consider the other recommendations.
The Chief Inspector of Mines will require all operating mines with TSF dams to provide a letter by June 30, 2015, to confirm whether foundation materials similar to those at Mount Polley exist below any of their dams. If those materials are present, the letters must also confirm whether sufficient investigations and testing were completed to properly understand the strength and location of those materials and that the dams were designed to account for those conditions.
The Province will also move to implement a new requirement that all operating mines with TSFs in British Columbia establish Independent Tailings Dam Review Boards. These boards will support improved engineering practices by providing third-party advice on the design, construction, operation and closure of TSFs. Some mines in B.C. already have similar boards in place.
Lastly, the Province will initiate a code review to determine how to best implement the panel’s remaining recommendations, including the adoption of best available practices and technologies.
These actions respond to the panel’s report which determined that the strength and location of a layer of clay underneath the dam was not taken into account in its original design. As a result, this layer became overstressed, causing the portion of the dam on top of that layer to collapse.
Today, the Province also released the inspections and third-party reviews of TSFs at other permitted mines in British Columbia, ordered by the Chief Inspector of Mines following the failure at Mount Polley. The inspections and reviews have not identified any immediate safety concerns and are available online at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=9F8D3F4D2F264F7FA278B528D2F08432
The Province is investing in improved information systems so that this information can routinely be made public going forward.
The inspections included site investigations, interviews with TSF operators and reviews of instrumentation and monitoring data. In addition to submitting inspection reports and third-party reviews, companies also submitted a letter of commitment to the Chief Inspector outlining how they plan to implement any recommended work.
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Responsible for Core Review stated:
“I am relieved to know the cause of the failure at Mount Polley and want to thank the panel for their important work. Now we can devote all of our energy to taking a leadership role in Canada and internationally to learn from this and ensure it never happens again.”