HIGHLAND VALLEY COPPER MINE

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Image source.

Our community exists just a few km downstream of the Highland Valley copper mine, one of the largest open pit mining operations in the world. An industrial operation such as this has a huge impact on the environment and the people living in that environment. So, for the purpose of exploring and understanding the nature and extent of this impact, we are opening up this new section here on The Rattler. You are invited to submit opinions, open letters, articles, videos, links, photos, etc. in this regard. Simply use our contact page here.

Postings are listed in chronological order with newest at the top.

POSTED APRIL 26, 2017: 225K Gallon Spill At Mine

Peter Martell, superintendent of environment and community affairs with Teck Resources Limited, clarified that the 225,000 gallons of water did not breach the actual tailings dam, but came from a damaged pipeline that fed into an onsite pump house. Read complete article here.

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POSTED AUGUST 30, 2016 - External article link: “Teck, the coal and copper mining giant, is responsible for nearly 60 per cent of the $1.2-billion in underfunding for the cleanup of mines when they close in BC.”

POSTED JULY 7, 2016 - Photo: Highland Valley mine tailings dust storm. Why I don’t harvest wild berries anywhere nearby.

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POSTED MAY 26, 2016: B.C. Taxpayers On The Hook for Underfunded Mine Disaster and Reclamation Costs by Judith Lavoie

POSTED NOVEMBER 12, 2015: As copper prices fall, layoffs loom at Highland Valley

POSTED NOVEMBER 12, 2015: TECK REPORTS UNAUDITED THIRD QUARTER RESULTS FOR 2015

POSTED JUNE 4, 2015: B.C. mine tailings ponds pose serious risk to water sources.

Thousands of kilometres of salmon-rich waterways and the drinking water of hundreds of communities in central and Northern British Columbia are at risk of mining-related environmental disasters, a new report warns.

POSTED MAY 24, 2015: Flash Flood in Ashcroft. Hear CFJC Interview here.





POSTED FEBRUARY 10, 2015: Mount Polley investigation: Whitewash follows tailings flood – culprits let off the hook.

The recently concluded “independent” investigation into the Mount Polley tailings pond rupture essentially exonerates the various culprits in what was likely the worst environmental catastrophe in BC history. The report can only be seen as a whitewashing of the world record 25 million cubic metres of mine tailings and other debris swept into Hazeltine Creek and the formerly pristine Quesnel Lake this past August.

Read complete article
here.


POSTED JANUARY 30, 2014: CBC reports that Mount Polley spill blamed on design of embankment.

Independent investigation finds foundation of earthen dam failed because of unstable underlying layers

An independent investigation has determined the breach of the Mount Polley mine tailings dam in B.C. was caused by a failure to detect a weak layer in its foundation, likening the massive embankment to a "loaded gun." Read complete article here.

POSTED DECEMBER 16, 2014: An Engineer's Idea to Prevent Future Mount Polleys

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Jack Caldwell says peer review process, convened by firms during a mine's life, could avert disaster.
By David P. Ball, 20 Nov 2014, TheTyee.ca

Two months before provincial investigators wrap up their postmortem of the Aug. 4 Mount Polley tailings dam collapse in the British Columbian Interior, a leaked review of another Imperial Metals' mine singles out risks of leaks, stability problems and landslides around the project.

The Tahltan Nation-commissioned
report by Vancouver consulting firm Klohn Crippen Berger into the Red Chris copper and gold mine in northwestern B.C. warns that "any failure of the Red Chris impoundment will likely have a much more significant environmental impact than the Mount Polley failure."

But a leading tailings engineer argues the Mount Polley disaster could have been averted if the B.C. mining sector had adopted a forward-thinking practice from other jurisdictions: mines should be subjected to ongoing, "independent peer review" tests.

Read complete article
here.


POSTED NOVEMBER 6, 2014: CBC Radio report on Highland Valley Mine and its close proximity to Spences Bridge.

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Click here to listen. Includes interview with Spences Bridge resident Dwayne Rourke.

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WHERE IS THE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM FOR SPENCES BRIDGE PROMISED BY HIGHLAND VALLEY MINE NOV. 2014?



POSTED NOVEMBER 3, 2014: Imperial Metals meets with Likely residents on water quality and clean up.

Imperial Metals, the company behind the Mount Polley Mine spill, made itself available for questions. And the residents of Likely came with plenty. A meeting was held at the Likely Community Hall. Radio interview with CBC’s DAYBREAK KAMLOOPS. Click here to listen.

POSTED OCTOBER 21, 2014: On The Coming Collapse Of Copper
by Tyler Durden Zerohedge.com

18 months ago we first brought the world's attention to the end of what has now been exposed as among the largest ponzi schemes in history - the Chinese Commodity Financing Deals (CCFDs) - pointing out how this meant commodities like copper were likely to come under pressure as firms liquidate what minimal holdings they had (and sell out futures hedges) to manage the risk of unwinds in these quasi-collateralized deals. Since then, copper prices have indeed plunged, as has global growth expectations and global bond yields as a realization that 'demand' implied by previous prices was entirely artificial. Now, as Goldman notes, the real world is catching up (or down) to the reality of mal-investment and how copper is set to drop notably further...

Read complete article here.

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POSTED OCTOBER 21, 2014: STUDY REVEALS HIGH FREQUENCY OF TAILINGS POND BREACHES WORLDWIDE

The following link is to a comprehensive table based on information collected by the International Commission On Large Dams (ICOLD). (ref: "ICOLD, Bulletin 121 - Tailings Dams, Risk of Dangerous Occurrences. Lessons learnt from practical experiences")

Tailings Related Accidents - Failures, Breaches and Mudflows

Note: Some entries in the list are hyperlinked to further online resources .


POSTED OCTOBER 1, 2014: OPINION OF DWAYNE ROURKE - HIGHLAND VALLEY TAILINGS POND WARNING SYSTEM NEEDED FOR SPENCES BRIDGE

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Highland Valley tailings pond dam as seen from highway. Photo: D. Rourke

I took the Highland Valley Copper Mine (HVC) tailings pond tour the other day, along with about twenty other people from the Spences Bridge area. A bus was provided by Cooks Ferry for the trip to and from the mine site which is located east of Ashcroft. The 4.5 hr. tour included a free lunch.

With the August 4, 2014 Mt.Polley tailings pond disaster in mind, my reason for going on the tour was to find out more about the even larger tailings pond at the HVC site. I was hopeful that a direct experience of the operation would put my mind at rest about the possibility that a similar tailings pond breach could happen here.

HVC advisory staff were on hand for the full duration of the tour and they were very forthcoming with their responses to the many questions which arose and although his presence at our lunch table was unannounced, I discovered that general manager Chris Dechert was sitting next to me and that he was very open to answering any questions I and others at the table had. A lively discussion ensued and I, for one, came away from it feeling well informed.

Highland Valley Copper extracts millions of pounds of copper ore every year from what used to be a very verdant landscape filled with an abundance of flora, and fauna. It is one of the very largest copper mines in the world and its "open pit" process has completely obliterated that verdancy within the perimeter of its operation. Unfortunately, its impact has also extended beyond that perimeter and this has caused much concern amongst people, especially First Nations, who live in close proximity to the mine and who are finding deleterious effects to air, water and soil, downstream from the tailings pond dam. Demands by Cooks Ferry band to find out more about what is actually happening in this regard has led to the establishment of scientific studies (by mining staff) that are currently underway.

The scale of the main tailings pond boggles the mind with its millions of cubic meters of sludge, all of which is being held in place by the ingenuity and technological skill of a handful of engineers who assure us that every precaution is being taken to ensure a robust and safe dam operation. Nonetheless, the company itself periodically runs full-system safety drills based on the possibility of a catastrophic dam breach. Such safety drills have not yet engaged our community which sits directly in the path of what could be a tsunami-like torrent of sludge and debris if a serious dam breach occurs.

I believe that Highland Valley has a moral obligation to those of us living in the shadow of their multi-billion dollar operation to provide a state-of-the art warning system to alert us of any dam breach. Such a warning system would be similar to those found in places like Hawaii and Japan, where tsunamis are a constant threat. And rather than the cost for such a system being externalized by the corporation, directly or indirectly, onto the backs of citizens, I believe it should be installed at the mine's expense, without delay.



POSTED OCTOBER 1, 2014: ANNOUNCEMENT - HIGHLAND VALLEY TOWN GATHERING IN SPENCES BRIDGE

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POSTED SEPTEMBER 15, 2014: ANNOUNCEMENT - HIGHLAND VALLEY TOWN GATHERING IN ASHCROFT


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POSTED AUGUST 7, 2014: DWAYNE ROURKE POSES DAM QUESTIONS ON RATTLER, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

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POSTED AUGUST 5, 2014: MOUNT POLLEY TAILINGS POND BREACH




POSTED JULY 2014: ANNOUNCEMENT - HIGHLAND VALLEY DEFERS TOURS


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