The Environmental Assessment Office is taking steps to ensure the safety of tailings management facilities at proposed mines in British Columbia.
Following the recommendations in the Mount Polley Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Report, additional information requirements have been established for mines undergoing environmental assessments.
Developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment, the additional information requirements will apply to mines in all stages of environmental assessment, and have been outlined in writing for each company and posted on the Environmental Assessment Office’s website.
The required information will ensure that companies proposing to build mines with new tailings dams have:
- In addition to the selected option for tailings management, considered other options that can address the potential for adverse effects on environmental, health, social, heritage and economic values;
- For the option selected, considered the potential risks and implications of that option and have a technically and economically feasible plan to address them; and
- Provided a clear and transparent rationale to support the selected option.
Companies will need to provide the following information:
- A description and assessment of alternative means of undertaking the proposed project with respect to options for tailings management that consider technology, siting and water-balance management;
- Presenting and comparing best practices and best-available technologies for tailings management;
- Options for managing water balance to enhance safety and reduce the risk of a tailings dam failure;
- A comparison of technically and economically viable engineering solutions to address site conditions; and
- A clear and transparent evaluation of the factors that supported the selection of the most-suitable option.
The Environmental Assessment Office will use the information to evaluate tailings management options and to determine whether the plans and strategies presented by mining companies adequately address any potential risks or implications.
British Columbia’s environmental assessment process involves a rigorous, thorough review that provides for significant opportunities for Aboriginal groups, government agencies and the public to provide input on the potential for environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects from a proposed project.
Ministry of Environment