Imperial Metals (TSX: III; US-OTC: IPMLF), the beleaguered miner behind the large Mount Polley tailings spill in B.C., has agreed that the Tahltan Central Council could review the tailings facility at its Red Chris copper–gold mine now under construction near Prince George, B.C., lifting a more than two-week blockade.
On Aug. 8, protesters known as the “Klabona Keepers” of the Tahltan First Nation blocked road access to Red Chris, following an Aug. 4 breach at the tailings pond at Imperial’s Mount Polley gold–copper mine farther south in B.C.’s Cariboo region, which sent 15 million cubic metres of waste water into nearby waterways.
A week into the roadblock, B.C.’s Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett met with some of the protesters and noted that they would be satisfied by an independent engineering review of the tailings pond under construction at the $630-million Red Chris mine, slated to start production later this year.
Bennett said that Imperial would fund the review, but that Tahltan would pick the engineering firm, and that the province would make sure that the tailings pond isn’t used until the probe is complete.
Imperial, which didn’t directly mention the blockade, said the agreement was finalized with the Tahltan Central Council over a weekend in late August, after several community meetings held in Iskut, including with the Klabona Keepers Elders Society.
A Klabona Keepers spokesperson told Reuters the blockade ended with the new agreement.
Meanwhile, the provincial government has ordered an independent engineering investigation into the Mount Polley tailings breach, and independent third-party reviews of all 2014 dam safety inspections for every tailings pond at a permitted mine in B.C.
Imperial is raising $100 million in a convertible debenture to finish construction at Red Chris and clean up the Mount Polley spill.
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