Tailings ponds inspections find no safety concerns

Teck review of Sullivan Mine tailings ponds ordered by Mining Inspector

A satellite image of the Kimberley tailings pond area.

A satellite image of the Kimberley tailings pond area.

There are no immediate safety or stability concerns for any of the Sullivan Mine tailings storage facilities and accompanying dam structures in Kimberley, Teck has assured Mayor and Council in a recent letter.

After the breach of the tailings dam at Mt. Polley Mine last August, B.C.’s Chief Inspector of Mines ordered all tailings facilities in the province to be inspected by December 1, 2014.

Teck already conducts daily inspections of Kimberley’s tailings ponds, says Teck’s Bruce Donald, Manager Legacy Properties, in the letter, as well as formal monthly inspections. Dam safety inspections are performed yearly and Dam Safety Reviews are performed by third party engineers every five years. With the order from the Inspector of Mines, Teck accelerated their review schedule. The company has submitted  a DSI which covers the 14 earthen dams and six tailings impoundments at the former Sullivan Mine site.

Kimberley’s area of tailings impoundment is approximately 583 hectares, which includes both remediated land and tailings ponds, containing material left over from the mining and processing of ore.

The impoundments include the:

Iron Pond, including iron dyke (active)

ARD storage pond, including north and south dams (active)

Sludge Pond, including north and south dykes (active)

Gypsum Ponds, including East, West and Northeast Gypsum dykes and Recycle Pond (reclaimed, no longer water retaining)

Old Iron Pond, including Southwest and Southeast Limbs (reclaimed, no longer water retaining)

Siliceous Ponds, including the number 1, 2 and 3 Siliceous dykes (reclaimed, no longer water retaining)

Calcine Pond, including Calcine dyke (reclaimed, no longer water retaining)

In addition to confirming no safety or stability concerns, the reports confirm that Teck is following industry practices for monitoring and surveillance practices. There were some recommendations, Donald wrote, but they were non-urgent, pertaining to  routine maintenance, repair and monitoring.

An independent study using “worst case scenario” dam failures for the Gypsum ponds, Iron Dyke and ARD ponds was conducted to ensure emergency response plans are comprehensive and thorough.

All these reports have been submitted to government and should be publicly available in early February.

In the meantime, Donald has offered Mayor and Council a briefing should they have any questions about the operations, maintenance and monitoring of Kimberley’s tailings facilities.