British Columbia

Red Chris tailings pond 'totally different' from Mount Polley: Bill Bennett

B.C.'s Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said he's confident the tailings pond at the proposed Red Chris mine won't suffer the same fate as the one at the Mount Polley mine.

Minister of Mines Bill Bennett says independent experts have signed off on design for tailings pond

A photo shows the excavation of the tailings impoundment area at Imperial Metals's Red Chris gold and copper property in northern B.C. A Tahltan spokesperson said the design of the pond is the same as that of the tailings pond that failed at Imperial's Mount Polley gold and copper mine. (Imperial Metals)

B.C.'s Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said he's confident the tailings pond at the proposed Red Chris mine won't fall to the same fate as the one at the Mount Polley mine.

"It's a totally different design in terms of the tailings storage facility itself. Mount Polley had a two kilometre square facility with four man-made dams. At Red Chris you have the natural contour of the valley so you have two sides where you don't need a dam. You've got one in because the valley runs downhill," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Bennett said independent engineers, engineers from Imperial Metals — the company behind the proposal, and engineers from the Tahltan First Nation have all signed off on the design.

Last week, the B.C. government granted Imperial Metals, which is the same company behind the Mount Polley mine, an interim permit to test the tailings pond at the Red Chris site.

That raised concerns from fishermen in Alaska, who are downstream from the proposal.

"We were dumb founded. I think our jaws dropped when we first heard about the Mount Polley incident to see a tailings facility that's very similar to the one at Mount Polley that has to hold back water and tailings basically forever to see that the B.C. government granted that interim permit — it's really a slap in the face," said commercial fisherman Heather Hardcastle.

Bennett said the B.C. government has consulted the Alaskan state government on the Red Chris mine and will continue to do so.

"The same people in Alaska are saying they don't have these kinds of mines in the state. They do. They've got the Fort Knox gold mine. They've got the Red Dog zinc mine. They've got a number of mines with exactly the same open pit mining method and exactly the same earthen dams and tailings storage facilities," said Bennett.

To hear the full interview with Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett, click the audio labelled: Bill Bennett on Red Chris mine.

To hear the full interview with Alaskan commercial fisherman Heather Hardcastle, click the audio labelled: Red Chris mine worries Alaskan fisher.


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