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Mount Polley mine northeast of Williams Lake aims for recommissioning this spring

Mine ramping back up and seeking extension on effluent release into Quesnel Lake
A pipe discharging effluent into Quesnel Lake as part of an interim permit for the Mount Polley Mine. (Submitted photo)

Mount Polley Mining Corporation (MPMC) is looking to fill hundreds of jobs as it aims for a spring start up.

The gold and copper mine located northeast of Williams Lake and is situated near the community of Likely.

MPMC has been relying on contractors for the pit operations underway already and will be hiring staff to take over as they increase to full production.

No set date has been determined, but Don Parsons, chief operation officer and interim general manager for the mine, said the hope is to have the mine recommissioned by late April.

MPMC is looking to fill approximately 130 roles in pit operations and then will be looking for more people once they begin mill operations for a total of 355 employees to become fully staffed.

Jobs needing to be filled include everything from truck drivers to information technology support, mechanics, millwrights, electricians and supervisors. There were only about 16 MPMC employees at the mine in mid-March, the rest of the workers on the site were contractors and an average of about 110 people are on site each day.

MPMC is expected to have about eight to 10 years of mine life left based on current reserves and Parsons said this could be extended with further exploration.

The mine has been in care and maintenance with minimal staff since May of 2019 which owner Imperial Metals attributed to declining copper prices.

In August of 2014 a dam breach at the mine’s tailing’s facilities spilled an estimated 17 million cubic metres of tailings water and eight million cubic metres of tailings materials into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, according to the Province of B.C.’s website.

The mine continues to release tailings water into Quesnel Lake “to manage on-site water inventory and support permitted operations,” according to a community meeting notice and has applied to extend the permit which allows them to do so.

The permit would run out in December of 2022, but the mine has applied to extend this until June 30, 2025.

A community engagement meeting was held in Likely at the Likely Community Hall on March 28 to discuss the permit and proposed amendment as well as provide information on the mine restarting and job opportunities and included representatives from the Ministry of Environment.

Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars said WLFN and MPMC are close to signing a cooperation agreement and he is viewing the mine restarting as providing local career opportunities which allow community members to support their families.

He said WLFN is looking forward to what reopening the mine could do for the local economy.

Read more: Mount Polley mine expected to open by fall 2021: Imperial Metals

Read more: Regulator fines engineers 8 years after Mount Polley disaster in B.C.

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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