Mark Creek in Kimberley, downstream from the lower mine yard. Photo submitted

Sullivan Mine in Kimberley wins prestigious BC Mining Reclamation Award

There is an award-winning property in the neighbourhood. The Sullivan Mine’s upgraded groundwater collection system near Mark Creek is an Outstanding Achievement in Reclamation, according to the British Columbia Technical and Research Committee (TRCR) on Reclamation.

The British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation (TRCR) originated in the early 1970’s, in response to a demonstrated need in the province of BC for greater government-industry communications in the area of environmental protection and reclamation associated with mining. Membership is drawn from the mining industry and corporate sector (several of the operating mines are represented), government representatives from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change; mining associations and British Columbia universities and colleges such as UBC, UNBC and TRU. To promote excellence in reclamation, the Committee annually presents the British Columbia Mine Reclamation Award and several category awards for excellence in mine reclamation.

Reclamation is the process of restoring mined land for other positive post-mining uses. The staff at the Sullivan began planning reclamation activities long before the mine closed in 2001. In all, Teck has reclaimed over 1,000 hectares of land and spent more than $100 million executing the closure plan for the Sullivan. Water treatment and monitoring activities, in particular, have been important priorities at the Sullivan Mine for more than 40 years.

The updated groundwater collection system near Mark Creek is one important example of Teck’s commitment to continuous improvement in reclamation activities. The project incorporated innovative construction techniques to meet the challenges of deep excavation and all-season construction. The remedial design not only improved the groundwater collection process, it also greatly reduced confined space entry to improve overall safety in operations and maintenance.

The $5 million project included installation of more than 700 meters of water interception trench and collection piping. The work was completed in two phases between 2016 and 2019. The updated system has significantly improved groundwater quality in the area. Monitoring results showed peak concentrations of mining-related materials in groundwater were the lowest in more than a decade.

The B.C. TRCR selected the Sullivan Mine’s upgraded groundwater collection system for the 2020 Outstanding Achievement in Mine Reclamation Award. The award was presented at the Annual Mine Reclamation Symposium in September.

Additional information about the TRCR and the Symposium is available online at http://www.trcr.bc.ca/virtual-2020-symposium/