Contents from the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond is pictured going down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. on August, 5, 2014. Imperial Metals announced Monday it will suspend operations at Mount Polley at the end of May 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C.’s Mount Polley Mine to suspend operations due to sliding copper prices

Company said the suspension plan includes milling to end of May 2019

  • Jan. 7, 2019 4:43 p.m.

Imperial Metals announced Monday it will suspend operations at Mount Polley Mine near Likely at the end of May, 2019 due to falling copper prices.

The suspension will impact between 110 and 115 union employees, said Dan Will, business agent for United Steelworkers Local 1-2017. Many of those impacted workers live in Williams Lake and the surrounding area.

“It’s not good for the community, it’s not good for the workers, not good for anybody” said Will, who received the news via a phone call Monday from mine manager Dale Reimer.

“It was news to the union but we’ve known that the price of copper has been going down.”

Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch said about 250 people will be impacted in total.

“About two thirds of our workforce is unionized and about a third aren’t,” he said Tuesday.

In a news release, Imperial Metals said the suspension plan includes milling of low grade stockpiles which is targeted to extend operations to the spring shutdown. There will be no impact to the mine’s ongoing environmental monitoring and remediation program in relation to the 2014 spill, the company confirmed.

“Full operations will resume once the economics of mining at Mount Polley improve.”

Read More: Disciplinary hearings announced regarding Mount Polley Mine breach

Read More: Mount Polley and USW reach agreement

During a public meeting held in Williams Lake in December, Lyn Anglin, vice president of environmental affairs said the on-going dredging of the Springer Pit, which was the temporary holding facility following the breach, continued to be delayed. She said they had hoped they would be able to use the Springer Pit to resume mining for new material.

Kynoch said while the inability to mine the Springer Pit for more material is a factor, it is the price of copper that drove the decision to suspend operations.

“If the price of copper had been over $3 we could have found a way to keep going but at less than $3 it doesn’t work,” he said. “We just couldn’t figure out a way that we could get through this year. It still has some good years left but it needs some capital to get to those years. There’s more ore but we need to move some stuff out before we can get to it.”

Reacting Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said the suspension of operations will be devastating to workers, the community and families.

“This affects over a 1,000 people when you consider suppliers, truck drivers and schools, it will affect everybody in some way in business,” Barnett said. “It’s a sad thing when anything like this happens.”

While the price of copper is down, Barnett said business are struggling to survive added costs such as the new employer tax, carbon tax and income tax.

“Even the permitting process for permitting these days is an absolute nightmare,” Barnett added. “I’m just very concerned about the atmosphere out there for all resource industries in British Columbia.”

Mount Polley mine is located in south-central British Columbia, 56 kilometres northeast of Williams Lake.

The Mount Polley mine is owned and operated by Mount Polley Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Imperial Metals.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drivesmart column: Mandatory alcohol screening

If you have to drive, don’t drink. If you drink, don’t drive.

Mary Lowther column: Time to plan the winter garden

Weeds have gotten away on me, I’ve just finished laying out my soaker hoses

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Sarah Simpson Column: Finding nature at home

It was time to call in reinforcements.

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

Most Read