Categories
Remediation

Hazeltine Creek Remediation Wildlife Monitoring Plan Update

A Wildlife Monitoring Plan has been implemented in the Hazeltine Creek corridor, utilizing wildlife cameras to build an inventory of animals that are using the corridor to support local wildlife studies.

Environmental monitoring programs and closure research projects at Mount Polley mine site have successfully reached several milestones since inception in 2014. Post-remediation monitoring in lower Hazeltine Creek and Edney Creek have reported significant improvement in water quality to promote increased aquatic habitation. All areas that were disturbed by the 2020 construction near Hazeltine and Edney Creek were seeded with a variety of local, non-invasive vegetation comprised of Mountain Brome, Native Red Fescue, Rocky Mountain Fescue, Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Blue Wildrye, Fireweed, and Big Leaf Lupine. This selective plant growth not only helps re-introduce wildlife usage in the area but, creates a suitable habitat for a diverse range of wildlife activities from nesting birds to foraging and predator/prey interactions. To better understand the impacts and implications of these programs and remediation efforts on Mount Polley as well as potentially other mine sites, specialized wildlife cameras have been installed for mammal species monitoring. As a result, an inventory of identified species including numerous bird species and even some large insects within the Hazeltine Creek corridor by remote cameras have captured a library collection of raw footage.

The gallery below offers a preview to the library of photos retrieved by on-site staff.

In addition to creating a mammal inventory, the study was also intended to identify whether wildlife usage was negatively impacted following the dam incident. However, review of the current inventory suggests that usage was not impaired. On the ground, staff are also seeing a prevalence of locally known mammal species such as bears, mule deer, and moose.

Although it is a little too early to confirm any trends, photos of wolverine, which are quite uncommon in the area, also suggests that the remediation efforts have potentially created an environment that is becoming well received by a more diverse group of terrestrial lifeforms and continues to be home to the local ecosystem entirety.

The team will continue to conduct non-intrusive, wildlife research monitoring to better understand local animal activity and behaviour. Everyone on site shares their wildlife observations with staff, which are recorded in a wildlife tracking table. Mount Polley’s team are committed to completing the in-stream work this year as well as the remaining terrestrial remediation within the next two years. Updates on the remediation work at Mount Polley mine are available in the quarterly Community Update newsletters on mountpolley.com.

Categories
Remediation

Over 100 sockeye salmon adults return to spawn in Hazeltine Creek

After seven years of remediation work in Hazeltine Creek in response to the 2014 tailings dam breach, the salmon have returned to the creek to spawn.  In stream work was completed in late August this year, just in time for the sockeye migration in the region.

In the early stages of the Mount Polley remediation effort, 40 thousand truckloads of rock were used to build a foundation channel along Hazeltine Creek from Polley Lake to Quesnel Lake. Next, section by section, the remediation team modified the initial channel and added sinuosity and habitat features to provide instream cover for fish, enhancing the habitat value. These features included spawning platforms, pools, riffles, rock boulder clusters, root wads, and logs.

The biological design for habitat features was developed collaboratively with Mount Polley’s technical experts, Williams Lake First Nation, Xatśūll First Nation, and at the regulatory level, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.  Collectively the group is referred to as the “Habitat Remediation Working Group.”

Over the past few weeks over 100 sockeye salmon adults have returned to Hazeltine Creek to spawn. “The focus of the Hazeltine Creek remediation effort at Mount Polley has been to repair and rehabilitate Hazeltine Creek so that it becomes a self-sustaining, productive fish habitat.” said Brian Kynoch, President of Imperial Metals. 

Trout have been using portions of the rehabilitated creek to spawn since 2017, and now another major milestone has been achieved with the return of sockeye salmon to the creek. The presence of the sockeye salmon and various other fish species signals that the remedial work has begun to restore ecological function.  This is not only evident in the aquatic environment but also evident across the terrestrial landscape where plant communities are developing, and abundant wildlife is observed.  It is expected that as both the aquatic and the terrestrial ecosystems mature, further ecological function will emerge, and the site will host an even broader array of organisms.

Categories
Remediation

Fish populations thriving at Mount Polley

Habitat modelling reveals four times more juvenile fish are expected in Hazeltine Creek post-remediation efforts

Mount Polley Mining Corporation is pleased to report that fish populations are thriving at Mount Polley.  Further, the current habitat of upper Hazeltine Creek is over 1.5 times more likely to spawn fish than the pre-breach habitat.  A recent report prepared by Golder, Mount Polley’s Environmental Consultant, reveals that the fish population in Hazeltine Creek is increasing as a result of the remediation efforts made by the Mount Polley Habitat Remediation Working Group* since 2014.  Computer modelling of the fish population projects that there could be up to four times more juvenile trout in Hazeltine Creek in 2031 than in 2014.

“By May 2015 the water in Hazeltine Creek was running clear, and the bugs – invertebrates that provide food for fish – were starting to grow in the creek, so it was decided that the installation of new fish habitat could begin and this work started in 2016,” stated Lee Nikl, Principal and Senior Environmental Scientist – Mine Water and Environment Group at Golder.  “By late 2017, fish were let back into the creek.”

We expect there to be almost twice as many juvenile trout in Hazeltine Creek by 2022.  The new report uncovers that this is an outcome of the remediated habitat features in the creek, as well as the unobstructed conditions for upstream passage of fish, which are expected to persist in the long term.  The Habitat Remediation Working Group has been guiding and overseeing habitat remediation since 2014 and “the design objectives and the designs themselves are the outcome of collaborative design with the Habitat Remediation Working Group”, said Nikl.  “The focus of the remediation effort at Mount Polley has been to repair and rehabilitate Hazeltine Creek so that it becomes a self-sustaining, productive fish habitat.” said Brian Kynoch, President of Imperial Metals.

Categories
Mining facts

Mount Polley already meets Metal and Diamond Mining Regulations

Mount Polley Mining Corporation was future ready when the federal government published new regulations amending the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) earlier this week. 

The federal regulations, now known as the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER) were amended in 2018 and contain several tough new provisions that came into effect on June 1st, 2021.

For several years Mount Polley has proactively been monitoring its treated water discharge for the substances which are controlled in the new regulations and has also been testing for toxicity as is now required by the MDMER. 

Toxicity testing using the water flea “Daphnia magna” has demonstrated that Mount Polley’s treated water discharge has been consistently non-toxic to this crustacean.

Daphnia magna, a commonly occurring organism in British Columbia and one that is a food source for certain fish, is particularly sensitive to dissolved copper. Dissolved copper is the “bioavailable” form of copper and Mount Polley is pleased that its water management strategy has successfully mitigated these effects.

Categories
History

The Cultural History of Copper

Copper has played an important role in the development of human civilization. Copper was discovered in several sites, and has notable industrial origins in Cyprus whose name comes from those that traded the metal as a commodity. The ancients represented copper by the symbolic Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “for life,” marking the durability of copper.

It isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact moment of the appearance of the first copper objects. Copper hunting tools and weapons likely appeared around 5000 BC in Mesopotamia. At the time, the metal existed exclusively in nature in its native state.

Related reading

The History of Copper

Copper and Civilization

For many civilizations, copper has been a source of inspiration for artists and builders. Soon after its discovery, copper was used in the minting of coins and forging swords. In many countries, copper is still regarded as a precious metal because of its unique properties.

The wealth that copper produces leads to positive change in various ways – most notably in jobs for local communities. Historically, it developed new towns, villages, and settlements. In the creation of jobs, copper attracts new residents and employees.

The Copper Age first started around 5000 B.C. Metal casting in the Near East was a common practice in ancient times. In ancient Egypt, copper statues were made before the copper was available to Europeans. During this period, copper statues enjoyed a high artistic status. Copper jewelry and copper sculptures began to be made in Africa around the 9th century, while Native Americans and First Nations discovered the function and beauty of copper.

China

Until the end of the Shang Dynasty around 1050 BC, China used the mold casting as the sole copper manufacturing method. In this process, an object is reproduced on a model, which is then cast in clay. Once the model has been released from the mold, the pieces are reassembled, but the mold becomes a casting mold after firing. The Jiangnan Copper House stands tall today, housing ancient copper sculptures, ornaments, and tools.

Bronze axe from the Shang Dynasty inlaid with turquoise. c.14th-11 century B.C. – Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University

Middle East

Modern-day Jordan was the site of ancient mines and smelting sites. These mines may have belonged to King Solomon but while most historians mark this industrial activity after his reign, carbon dating in the last few years has strengthened the case for Solomon’s copper extraction and processing of copper at these sites. This claim is also backed up by biblical scripture which describes Solomon’s reign around 1000 B.C., a time which coincides with dating of ancient copper processing sites. The Bible describes “brass” and “bronze” opulence in Solomon’s court, alloys of copper, let alone copper being understood by scholars as fundamental to King Solomon’s wealth

King Solomon and the Iron Worker by Christian Schussele, 1863 depicts a king’s wealth brass, bronze, and copper

Ancient Greece

In the Mycenaean period, from around 1600 BC to around 1000 BC, Greece was prosperous, and copper was often used for everyday use and works of art.

By the 6th century AD, the lost wax casting technique had gained momentum. The copper sculptures that were produced were often adorned with glass, silver, and copper for realistic features.

It is believed that the statues were mass-produced and not composed of individual pieces by the artist. Some statues from this time that sunk in shipwrecks were recently found. It appears that separately cast torsos could have been attached to already manufactured limbs.

Boxer at Rest by Apollonius of Athens – c.330 to 50 B.C.

Ancient Rome

Several copper statues from various countries were sent to Rome, where they were melted down to recover the copper and make it into Roman weapons or sculptures. In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder wrote about the reuse of copper by Rome in the foundries of Brindisi. Sculptures from a copper age were discovered in 1992 attached to a wreck located in the Mediterranean Sea near Brindisi. The sculptures came from Eastern Mediterranean territories occupied by the Roman Empire between the 4th and 3rd centuries AD.

West Africa

Copper and bronze sculptures, such as breastplates, vases, crowns, and swords, have been discovered from the Igbo-Ukwu civilization. This civilization was one of the first in West Africa to make copper sculptures using the lost wax technique. Extensive work was done by assembling several pieces cast in copper.

Igbo-Ukwu bronze ceremonial staff head. c.9th century

Renaissance Italy

Copper started to appear in sculptures around the 1500s when Florence thrived as the center of the copper craft. The city eventually became famous for its bronze statue, including those by Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti. These are among the most iconic figures of the Renaissance. Sculptors such as Michelangelo, among others, drew inspiration from Donatello.

David by Donatello in bronze – c.1450

The Americas

Mexico

In the mid-15th century, the Purepecha peoples from central Mexico began producing hammered copper sculptures. In 1804 the Spanish established foundries in Mexico, which continue today to produce copper sculptures.

They used the heating and hammering technique to make tools and ornaments. In the process, copper is heated till it can be hammered several times. The patterns and soot are added to the part using special hammers. What is left becomes a red patina.

The Museo Nacional del Cobre (National Copper Museum) – Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico

Northwest

Indigenous peoples of the region are known to have used copper for payment, and symbolic significance and was generally the property of chieftains but were connected to Shamans. During the Potlatch, a ceremonial feast among indigenous peoples to display wealth and establish status and social prestige, copper was sometimes used in place of slaves among historic indigenous peoples. Copper would be destroyed as part of the ceremony to display the wealth of chieftains. As an indicator of value, copper was an important element in the succession ceremonies for these leaders. Rival chiefs would symbolically break their copper in exchange with other chiefs until one’s copper was fully broken into pieces, symbolizing defeat. In the tradition of indigenous peoples, copper was also important in funerals and weddings.

The Old Copper Complex refers to the ancient copper culture of Native Americans-the original inhabitants of the Great Lakes region. This culture reportedly spans many thousand years in an area of thousands and thousands of square miles.

Today tangible evidence suggests these communities used copper to produce countless tools in the Middle Archaic period. They got their copper from natural ores that ran hundreds of miles along the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Their copper was the purest, over 95%. Researchers conclude that large amounts of this pure copper must have been used for ornaments and weapons by the Native Americans from the extent of mining. Significant artifacts, including axes and adzes, knives, and harpoons, have been found.

Copper knife, apud, spearpoints, and awls. c.3000-1000 B.C.

Religious Significance of Copper

For more than 5000 years, copper has been linked to the goddess of love (Aphrodite). Copper was also by the Egyptians used to purify water and keep wounds clean. Shamans believe that copper magnifies energy transfer, meaning that the wearer can absorb healing provided by the minerals or crystals.

Some of the copper craftwork found in Egyptian tombs remains today, including copper plumbing pipe, even though it is thousands of years old. Burying everything that a person would need in the next world in the tombs, ancient Egyptians used bronze to make models of statues, bakehouses, tanneries, breweries, and boats.

Much of the history, processing, and use of copper that we know today only survived because of representation in Christian monastic and Islamic cultural writings. Three famous writers Peter Theophilus in the 11th century, Georgius Agricola in the 16th century, and Johannes Mathesius in the 17th century, describe in detail the metal producing techniques of their times.

This literature has influenced much of modern mining uses of copper in society.

Categories
Research

Imperial Metals congratulates recipients of the 2021 Barlow Medal for Best Geological Paper

Imperial Metals congratulates authors Chris Rees, Greg Gillstrom, and K. Brock Riedell on being the 2021 recipient of the Barlow Medal for Best Geological Paper 

Imperial Metals congratulates authors Chris Rees, Greg Gillstrom, and consultant K. Brock Riedell for being named the 2021 recipient of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s (CIM) Barlow Medal for Best Geological paper award. The CIM Awards honour industry’s “finest for their outstanding contributions in various fields. Their achievements and dedication are what make Canada’s global mineral industry a force to be reckoned with.” 

The Barlow Medal is named after Alfred Ernest Barlow who joined the Geological Survey of Canada in 1883, where he would help to define some of Canada’s most prolific mining regions. The Barlow Medal annually awards a gold medal to those who publish the best paper on economic geology. 

“On behalf of Imperial Metals and Mount Polley Mining Corporation, we congratulate Chris Rees, Greg Gillstrom and K. Brock Ridell for being chosen as the 2021 recipient of the CIM Barlow Medal for Best Geological paper award,” says Brian Kynoch, President of Imperial Metals. “Their work has been instrumental in expanding the mineral potential at Mount Polley.” 

The geological paper is a description of the geology, alteration and mineralization of the Mount Polley deposit, and summarizes exploration and mining history up to the recent mine suspension in May, 2019. Tables of historical copper, gold, and silver production, and reserves and resources are also included. The paper is a contribution to CIM Special Volume 57 (2020) which updates the state of knowledge on major porphyry copper deposits in British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska. Papers on other Imperial projects, Red Chris and Huckleberry, are also contained in the volume. 

About Imperial 

Imperial is a Vancouver based exploration, mine development and operating company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, owns a 30% interest in the Red Chris mine, and a 100% interest in both the Mount Polley and Huckleberry copper mines in British Columbia. Imperial also holds a 45.3% interest in the Ruddock Creek lead/zinc property. 

Categories
Mining facts

Magnetite and Magnetite Mining in Canada

Magnetite (also magnet iron, magnet iron stone, iron oxide, or iron (II, III) oxide) is the most stable iron oxide with high resistance to acids and alkalis. It has a cubic crystal system and a chemical molecular formula Fe3O4. One of the iron ions is divalent. The other two are trivalent, so Magnetite is also referred to as iron (II, III) oxide. It has a ‘Mohs’ hardness of 5.5 to 6.5, a black color, a line color, and a matte metallic sheen.

Crystal structure of magnetite: oxygen (gray), divalent iron (green), trivalent iron (blue), iron ion in octahedron gap (light blue octahedron), iron ion in tetrahedron gap (gray tetrahedron) – Wikimedia commons

History of magnetite mining

Magnetite is one of the most powerful magnetic minerals. When the temperature falls below 578°C, the magnetization is mostly aligned in the earth’s magnetic field direction. A remnant magnetic polarization of the order of magnitude 500 nT results. In this way, magnetite crystals can preserve the direction of the earth’s magnetic field at the time of their formation.

The investigation of the direction of magnetization of lava rock (basalt) led geologists to observe that in the distant past, the magnetic polarity of the earth must have reversed from time to time. Due to its excellent magnetic properties, Magnetite is still used today in the construction of compasses. As a color pigment, it bears the name iron oxide black.

The name magnet emerged from the Latin name form magnetem (from nominative magnes – magnet). The medieval mineral name Magneteisenstein and the name Magnetit were introduced by Wilhelm Haidinger in 1845.

According to Greek legend, the shepherd Magnes is said to have been the first to find a natural stone with magnetic properties. The shepherd found the stone on Mount Ida when his shoe-heel stuck to the ground.

Magnetite is magnetic!

Another possible origin of the name refers to the Greek landscape Magnesia. Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) used the term “magnetic stone” in his well-known work De Re Metallica in 1550 as an ingredient for glass production.

The reference to the stone magnes, named after a shepherd of the same name, can be found in works by the Roman writer Pliny, the Elder. Pliny distinguished two types of magnes; a “male” and a “female,” of which only the male had the power to attract iron and thus corresponded to the actual Magnetite. “Female” magnesite was probably manganese ore, similar to the “male” in appearance.

Illustration of Magnes the shepherd

The mineral might have also been named after Magnesia, a landscape in Thessaly or the city of Magnesia. It is also possible that the name Magnetite comes from other Greek or Asia Minor places of the same name, in which iron ore chunks with magnetic properties were found over 2500 years ago.

Occurrence

Magnetite occurs in solid or granular form and also as crystals. The latter are often octahedral in shape, so each has eight triangular boundary surfaces. It is a ubiquitous mineral, but it is rarely the main component of an iron rock.

Magnetite
Magnetite

Magnetite is found in numerous igneous rocks such as basalt, diabase, and gabbro in metamorphic rocks. Its hardness means that Magnetite remains intact as sand in river sediments despite weathering processes.

Most of the Canadian Magnetite comes from the Labrador Trough region, on the border between Newfoundland and Quebec and Labrador. Vast deposits of Magnetite can be found in Nunavut, Faraday Township, Hastings County, Ontario, and Outaouais, Québec, Canada. Magnetite deposits are mined in British Columbia at Mount Polley.

Magnetite Uses

Dense Media Separation

Magnetite can be used in industry as a giant magnet. This has applications for sorting valuable materials from others in order to extract value. Those that panned for gold used pans, water, and agitation to remove dirt and debris from valuable nuggets of the valuable ore. Recyclers use magnetite in huge magets to sort valuable scrap metal from less valuable material. Magnetite mining helps the world extract value in an efficient way, whether from raw material or to repurpose discarded material in a green and environmentally friendly manner.

Dense Media Separation has its origins in cleaning coal. Finer coal material is separated from impurities making the energy derived from coal mining cleaner and more efficient.

Dense Media Separation is used in recycling industries to sort scrap metal. This is useful to give valuable material new life in everyday products from smartphones to electric vehicles. Magnetite makes recycling much more efficient, reducing the market price for recycled metals, allowing it to compete with newly mined metals in manufacturing.

Scrap metal recycling

Potash mining is a significant industry in Canada, particularly in the province of Saskatchewan. Potash is primarily used in fertilizer to more cheaply and efficiently feed a hungry world. Magetite, through the process of dense media separation, is used to purify extracted potash. Potash is a mixture of potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl). Magnetite is used in dense media separation in the potash extraction to remove NaCl from solution, leaving the valuable KCl behind.

Potash mining

Electrical industry

Along with hematite, Magnetite is one of the essential iron ore. At 72 %, iron has the highest content of this metal. The term iron oxide black means finely ground Magnetite.

Magnetite plays an essential role in the electrical industry. The occurrence of magnetic ores in rocks such as Magnetite or ulvite enables geological studies to be carried out on the earth’s magnetic field orientation.

Due to the 100 % spin polarization of the charge carriers predicted by theory, Magnetite is also traded as a hot candidate for spin valves in spin electronics.

As a building material

Magnetite is used in the construction industry as a naturally granular aggregate with a high bulk density (4.65 to 4.80 kg/dm 3 ) for heavy concrete and structural radiation protection. Thanks to the heavy mineral, the building material can help to attain a solid concrete density of more than 3.2 t/m3; and is helpful in the construction of hospital radiology units. 

Radiation protection concrete achieves a shielding function through its mass, but an aggregate with radiation-absorbing properties such as Magnetite increases the protective effect. 

Magnetite in jewelry

Classic jewelry clasps are often extremely filigree and, therefore, difficult to close. Magnetic jewelry clasps provide a remedy; they enable necklaces and bracelets to be easily closed. The strong magnets ensure a firm hold. To open the chain or strap, wearers simply have to slide two locking parts sideways.

Wearing jewelry is helped by magentic clasps

Heat storage

Industries use natural iron oxide minerals because they can keep the heat very efficiently. They use Magnetite in heat blocks in night storage heaters. Magnetite facilitates more extensive storage of thermal heat much more sustainably compared to other materials.

Magnetite is used in foundry metal protection

The mineral helps to prevent surface defects in metal fixtures in foundries. Natural mineral magnetite where it crashed into a pure, dry, and fine powder that’s used to protected casted metals.

Magnetic therapeutic beliefs in ancient times

Magnetism has been used traditional therapies for thousands of years, though modern science disputes therapeutic effect in placebo trials. The Greeks used magnetism in ancient treatments in 5th century BC. In China, magnets have been integrated into traditional therapy for over 2000 years, magnetism was also in traditional therapeutics in India and ancient Egypt to heal broken bones and other ailments.

Hippocrates described their healing power in the same way as the legendary doctor Paracelsus, who recommended treatments with magnets. Even during this time, women and men wore jewelry made from magnetic ores.

In ancient times magnetite mining became a major economic activity in the Thessalian city of Magnesia. Today, like the ancient Greeks, Canada has a reputation as a leading mining nation with the minerals sector as a core part of the economy. Magnetite mining supports jobs and increases economic growth in provinces and territories where it is mined along with broader benefits to Canada’s national economic output.

Categories
Community Exploration Remediation

A letter from the Mount Polley Team

Happy Holidays – we hope that everyone enjoyed a joyous holiday season and wish you all the best for 2021.

A Covid-19 update – Mount Polley employees continue to take additional precautions to minimize the risks of COVID19 transmission and illness as recommended by the Provincial Health Officer. All personnel continued to report to work in Q4.

Employees and site visitors are required to sign off on a daily COVID-19 Questionnaire before entering the site and will be turned away if showing symptoms of illness.

Mount Polley Mine: Care and Maintenance

Bulletins regarding the mines care and maintenance:

  • The environmental monitoring programs continue and are on track
  • Closure research projects continue as planned
  • Remediation of Hazeltine Creek continued at Lower Hazeltine, projected to be complete in 2021
  • Workforce consists of thirteen staff plus additional contractors
  • Site water management continues, including the near-continuous operation of the water treatment plant
  • Exploration Geological Mapping of new areas on mine site
  • CANMAG shipping magnetite

Environmental Monitoring Update

Environmental team: Matt O’Leary, Gabriel Holmes, Kala Ivens, Alicia Lalonde (DWB Consultant), Kim Sandy, Don Parsons (Corporate Office)

New Hire

Kimberly Sandy was hired on November 16 as the newest member of the Mount Polley environmental team.  She has been hired as an Environmental Technician and extensive on-site training is underway.

New ENV Permit

A new ENV permit 11678 was issued on December 31, 2020 that incorporates conditions from a previous consent order because of ongoing appeals of conditions within the permit as issued on February 1, 2020.

Quarter 4 routine monitoring activities completed:

  • Weekly WTP water quality sampling including monthly/quarterly toxicity sampling
  • Monthly water quality sampling at Hazeltine Creek 
  • Monthly & Quarterly water quality sampling of surface & mine affected waters including groundwater, mine seepage
  • Hydrological monitoring
  • Polley Lake, Bootjack Lake, & Quesnel Lake water quality sampling 
  • All critical ditches, sumps, ponds, and pipeline inspections 
  • Monthly/quarterly Waste Inspections
  • Continued investigation of unauthorized discharges and exceedances
  • Reporting—monthly, quarterly, investigations
  • Monitoring planning as per the Comprehensive Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and ENV Permit 11678

Specialized Environmentally Related Work

During the course of the year, we enlist the help of numerous environmental consulting companies to complete some of the specialized components of the environmental monitoring done at Mount Polley Mine.  Examples include bird song surveys or benthic and invertebrate studies in the remediated areas of Hazeltine Creek.  Most of our consultants completing specialized environmental work have wrapped up their field seasons and are processing data and interpreting their field observations in preparation for delivering their reports.  Some of these reports satisfy CEMP requirements and some are stand alone studies.  The results of this work can be found in the upcoming Mount Polley Mine Annual Environmental Report.  Some of the companies that we engage with include Golder Associates Ltd, Minnow Environmental Inc., DWB Consulting Services Ltd., Ensero Solutions, and Watersmith.

Environmental monitoring is conducted in accordance with the Environmental Management Act (EMA) Permit 11678 and the approved Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan (CEMP) requirements.

Snow corer for evaluating snowpack.

MPMC Water Treatment Plant (WTP) Update

In Quarter 4, the total treated water discharged to Quesnel Lake was ~1,592,581 mᵌ with an average discharge rate of ~0.2mᵌ/second.

The plant operated continuously for most of Quarter 4.  Water quality samples were collected weekly at the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) at the influent (E19) and effluent (HAD-3) sites throughout the quarter.  To further optimize the plant operations the WTP operators have been utilizing a Hanna Multiparameter Photometer to assess influent and effluent copper concentrations to help guide daily plant operations.  We are developing a data set comparing the field readings to the lab results to verify the reliability of the instrument. 

Water Treatment Plant Laboratory

Permit Exceedance

On November 11, 2020, a permit exceedance for elevated copper was observed at the WTP.  Through the course of the resulting investigation, the plant was shut down for four days, additional samples were collected (in recirculation mode), a site contact water review was completed, the source of copper was identified, plant operations and site conditions were assessed key findings were identified and operational recommendations were compiled. The plant resumed normal operation on November 27, 2020.

Bypass Request

On October 26, 2020, MPMC requested a bypass of the authorized works (the WTP) to discharge mine site contact water that is being stored in the Springer Pit without active treatment.  Through the course of the last year, the water quality in the pit has improved greatly and meets the end of pipe permit limits as indicated by the sample results taken during on-site monitoring.  This is the result of the water clarifying and passive in-situ treatment occurring in the pit.  The bypass request also included water from the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) and the Cariboo Pit provided that they meet the end of pipe permit limits.  Significant water quality fluctuations are not expected because of the single-source nature of the bypass.  Monitoring is planned to increase in the Springer Pit to provide early warning of water quality changes and will remain at the same frequency at the end of the pipe.

Another driver for this request is to aid MPMC in eliminating surplus water currently being stored on site.  The quantity of water stored on-site currently exceeds “Best Practices” as advised by the Tailings Storage Facility Engineer of Record.  A bypass authorization will enable MPMC to increase discharge volumes while still meeting permit limits and BC Water Quality Guidelines. This will also limit year-over-year accumulation of stored water on site.  A similar bypass authorization request was submitted by MPMC in 2016 and approved by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment (MoE) on March 11, 2016.

Water Treatment Plant and Discharge Pipeline to Quesnel Lake

MPMC Water Treatment Plant (WTP) Update-Graph

Hazeltine/Edney Creek Remediation 

Remediation work was limited in Q4 to ground cover seeding and seed collection efforts.  All areas that were disturbed by the 2020 construction near Hazeltine and Edney Creek were seeded.  Additional Sitka Alder and Cattail seeds were collected for distribution.  The native ground cover seed blend that is used in the remediation is comprised of Mountain Brome, Native Red Fescue, Rocky Mountain Fescue, Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Blue Wildrye, Fireweed, and Big Leaf Lupine.

Lower Edney Creek and Secondary High Flow Channel
Newly Constructed Edney Creek Outfall to Quesnel Lake
Hazeltine Creek Reach 3
Ice Forming in Lower Edney Creek

Exploration Update

In late 2019, a comprehensive exploration program consisting of a geochemical MMI-soil sample survey and a geophysical 3D-IP survey was carried out over the Frypan/Morehead area located west and north of the Mount Polley mine. The target area is roughly 3 by 3 kilometers in size, largely till covered and shows a similar magnetic response to that obtained over the Mount Polley mine host rock of monzonite and hydrothermally altered monzonite breccia pipes. 

In June 2020, an additional 3D-IP survey was conducted over the Mount Polley mine site to identify the geophysical response of the known mineralization. 

Interpretation of the new geophysical data sets led to numerous high-priority targets both in the Frypan/Morehead area and on the mine site. 

A drill program was planned to test the new high-priority targets on and off the mine site and to expand zones of known mineralization on the mine site. The first phase of drilling was carried out at the end of 2020. 

Due to prolonged delays with assay labs, the program is waiting for results before drillings resume. 

MPMC EVENTS

Quarter 4, 2020

October 7:

Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call

Upcoming

February 3, 2020

Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call

Resources

imperialmetals.com

BC Mine Information Page: https://mines.nrs.gov.bc.ca/

BC Ministry of Environment Natural Resource and Enforcement Database: https://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/ocers/searchApproved.do?submitType=menu

If you have any questions regarding the Community Update, please email Gabriel Holmes at gabriel.holmes@mountpolley.com

Categories
Mining facts

A Guide to Gold and gold mining

Gold is the chemical element with the symbol ‘Au’ on the periodic table of elements. It has been prized for its appearance, use, and value since its discovery by peoples long ago, as far back as 4000 B.C.

The yellow metal is worth so much due to its rarity, its appearance, how easily it melts and can be manipulated, its lack of oxidation or tarnishing. It is also valued for its density and durability. All of these contribute to the allure and desirability of this metal. It really is heavy! Do you think you could walk away with a cubic foot of gold if you found it? A cubic foot of gold weighs approximately 1,206 pounds!

Today you can find gold at jewelry stores, in collected coins, in edible form, and in many other places. Let’s take a tour and discover more about the history of gold mining in Canada, the history of gold, uses for gold, and more about this precious metal.

Gold nugget

Gold Mining in Canada

Canada mines a variety of metals and minerals for sale on the global market, gold among them. Gold mining in Canada occurs in nine provinces/territories. In terms of the value of production, it is Canada’s highest valued commodity. Canada joins Russia, the United States, Australia and China as the top gold mining nations of the world.

Gold can be found in many regions in Canada. It was first found in 1823 in Québec along the shores of the Rivière Chaudière. Gold was then found in British Columbia’s Fraser River in its sands in 1858 after ‘rushes’ in California and Australia. This began the Cariboo Gold Rush. It was followed by the Yukon’s Klondike Gold Rush four decades later, which started one of Canada’s most productive eras of mining gold. However, the first to mine and prospect for gold in North America were the Aboriginal peoples.

Many gold mining camps were established in the early 1900s. Gold fever was rampant! Canada expanded its gold production capacity when the second World War started to meet wartime expenses. That capacity reached 166 tons in 1941 – its high – but went down dramatically due to the war. Production dropped in the 1970s in Canada due to production costs, but gold price increases encouraged growth and development. Other discoveries and development in the 1980s returned gold as important to the nation’s economy, and today the majority of Canadian gold production is derived from open-pit or hard-rock underground mines, with the rest from placer mining and base-metal mines.

Of all the minerals mined in Canada, gold is the most valuable. In 2018, it carried with it a $9.6 billion production value. Of the gold that was mined for production in Canada that same year, Quebec and Ontario were the largest contributors, making up over 75% of its mined production. The total estimated value for Canadian-exported gold in 2018 stands at $17.3 billion.

Canadian Gold Maple Leaf 1oz coin

That same year, gold mines in Canada were able to produce around 183 tons of the precious metal, a substantial increase from nine years earlier when mined production of this metal stood at 88%. The Québec, Ontario, Nunavut, British Columbia, and the Atlantic region also experienced production increases. In 2018, Canada also generated income from gold in concentrates and metal ores of $806.7 million, an increase of $52.7 million from the year before. Gold mining companies in Canada made up over 20% of the mining sector’s output for the country. Overall the mining industry for gold in Canada is thriving and a productive part of the national economy.

The Bullion Pit was once called the Largest Hydraulic Placer Mine in the World, measuring over 3 km in length, 800 ft wide, and over 400 ft deep. The Bullion Pit Mine was an awe-inspiring wonder of man’s tenacity for extracting wealth from the ground in his hunt for gold. Located 5 kms west of Likely, the mine was in operation from 1892 to 1942.

However, over its lifetime, the Bullion Pit Mine produced over 175,644 ounces of gold, at today’s prices would be almost $400 million ($CAD).

The History of Gold

Early Discovery of Gold

According to historians at the U.S. National Mining Association, cultures were using gold in Eastern Europe for creating decorative objects as far back as 4000 B.C. In the years that followed, it is believed that gold was solely used for making jewelry or idols that could be worshipped.

Around 1500 B.C., Egypt’s empire had already made plenty of profit from Nubia, its region known for producing gold. It was at this time that the empire elected to make the precious metal their official medium of exchange when it came to matters of international trade. They also created the 11.3 gram shekel coin, which became the Middle East’s standard unit of measure and was created from electrum, an alloy of two parts gold and one part silver.

Death Mask of Egyptian Phararoh Tutankhamun

At the same time, the Babylonians discovered fire assay, a method for testing gold purity that is so effective that it continues to be used in modern times. The Egyptians would find in 1200 B.C. that they were able to use other metals to alloy gold, imparting strength and even being able to color it differently with various colour pigments. The Egyptians also were working on lost-wax casting, a method to create sculptures that is still in use.

Asia Minor’s kingdom of Lydia would mint their first gold coins in 560 B.C. with coins made out of pure gold. The Greeks had also done their fair share of mining from Gibraltar to Egypt and Asia Minor. The Romans also were on the hunt for gold, and would mint their own gold coins in 50 B.C. while advancing the technology and scientific approach to mining for gold significantly. The coins were named Aureus, deriving from ‘Aurum’, the word for gold in Latin.

Middle Ages

Further on in the history of gold, when William became King of England and the first Norman king in 1066 A.D., his triumph ushered in a new English system of currency along with it. Now currency would be based on metallic coins, which led to the use of the terms pence, shillings, and pounds (one pound equating to one pound of sterling silver).

In 1284, Great Britain would issue the Florin, a gold coin and its first for the nation. In Italy, the Ducat was issued in the Republic of Florence. The gold coin would skyrocket in popularity, becoming the world’s most popular form of gold currency at the moment and through the next five hundred years.

Florin coin (1458-1490)

Modern Times

The first gold coin to be produced in the United States was made by Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith, in 1787. The American government would pass the Coinage Act in 1792, which led to the United States being placed on a standard of silver and gold.

In 1848, gold flakes were discovered in a Californian stream by John Marshall. This was the start of what would go down in history as the California Gold Rush, where prospectors flocked to the state to try and find their fortune in gold. While some struck it rich, for many, a grand fortune never panned out. The movement did, however, help to get the West settled and added to the state’s population for a time.

Panning for gold

In 1976 the government left the gold standard and changed over to a basis of fiat money instead. Over the years, many countries have used gold as part of its currency, monetary reserves, and commemorative or specific coins.

Industrial Uses for Gold

Gold is not only used for luxury or decorative items – it has industrial uses as well. Gold is used to make electronics and a variety of other goods. It is a fantastic conductor and small amounts can be used to carry a current, while also having the benefit of not corroding. That and other qualities, such as its malleability and purity, makes it a valued component, ingredient, or main element for many products.

Various industrial uses for gold include:

  • Electronics and electronic components
  • Computers, memory chips
  • Dental fillings
  • Medical treatments
  • Space vehicles, space circuitry (conductor, connector, mechanical lubricant)
  • Glass production
Gold coats the primary mirror(s) of NASA’s James Webb telescope

Gold in Jewelry and Luxury Items

The use of gold in luxury items and as a material for jewelry has gone back centuries and continues to this day. Gold has always been an attractive choice for all things ornamental or decorative, from objects such as jewelry to other symbols of status. In modern times, roughly 78% of gold that is consumed annually is for the manufacture of jewelry.

Gold is ideal for making jewelry for many reasons. Its yellow color, its resistance to tarnishing, the high luster, and its malleability or ease of being cast into shapes all help this precious metal become selected as a frequent choice for jewelry manufacture. Its high value and tradition as an attractive and expensive jewelry metal makes it a desirable component for any piece, and for many objects of importance, gold is expected to be used.

Dacian gold bracelet from the National Museum in Romania

Pure gold is beautiful but also very soft, so it is often alloyed with metals like platinum, copper, and silver. For the creation of luxury items and jewelry, an alloy is frequently used of gold and another metal if it is necessary or beneficial. These alloys also will alter the final color and can produce yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, or gold with shades of peach, black, or green.

Gold leaf and gold gilding are also frequently used in luxury items and applications. The opulent forms of gold are used in external building decoration, in photo or painting frames, furniture, decorative application to surfaces, luxury purses, jewelry, home interiors, and in many more applications. The choice of gold as a luxury item and in the manufacture of jewelry will result in a product that is of the highest quality.

Gold As a Reserve

Gold was used by countries as a way to provide a guarantee to others. Held in the bank during the times of the gold standard, it was a store of value for the nation. While today countries have largely moved off the gold standard, central banks continue to store ample gold reserves, with more being added yearly.

The U.S. has the greatest gold reserve at over 8,000 metric tons, worth hundreds of billions of dollars It is followed by Germany, Italy, and France. Other countries continue to add to their own reserves. In addition, entities such as the European Central Bank and the IMF have their own gold holdings. Developed countries keep these gold reserves because of their central bank policy and their guaranteed worth regardless of circumstance. Gold serves to protect against economic events as a fail-safe policy, while simultaneously supporting the value of currency.

Gold bars
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Mining facts

Silver and Silver Mining

Silver is a soft metal with many valuable properties that make it a desirable resource for reasons both practical and luxurious. The chemical element goes by the ‘Ag’ symbol on the periodic table of elements and comes with a melting point of 962°C. It is superior to other metals in that it exhibits high levels of thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, and metal reflectivity. Read on to find out more about this highly prized metal in its uses, history, and application and influence regarding the modern world.

Silver Mining in Canada

Canada has a robust mining industry that produces many minerals, silver among them. Canada produces gold, coal, potash, iron ore, copper, and silver, among other minerals mined. Canada placed fourteenth on a list of countries producing silver in 2017, producing 12.7 million ounces. Global production of silver in 2017 was 852.1 million ounces.

Canada features many concentrated production areas where mines are located and silver mining in Canada takes place, mainly in BC, Ontario, New Brunswick and Québec. Every year, Canada is able to produce over a thousand tons of silver to bring to market.

British Columbia is home to a number of Canadian mining companies and has a storied history of mining for this precious metal. The Sullivan lead-zinc-silver mine used to be one of the world’s largest producing 280 million ounces of silver while the mine was in production from 1909 through 2001.

Much of Canada’s silver production comes from mining as a byproduct; National Resources Canada states that most Canadian mines are polymetallic. As a result, silver is derived frequently from ores made out of copper and nickel, copper and zinc, and gold and lead. Besides ores, silver can be recovered from various recycled materials. Silver mining continues to be a source of income for the mining companies as well as having the effect of boosting Canada’s GDP.

Uses for Silver

This beautiful metal with the white luster is used in many ways and for many things. The metal is resistant to corrosion, and its malleable nature means that it can be worked with in different ways, whether being rolled, drawn out into a finer form, or other practical methods. Here are some of the most practical and popular uses,

  • Utensils and silverware
  • Jewelry
  • Ornaments
  • Industrial materials and applications
  • Electronics
  • Mirrors
  • Batteries
  • Water purification systems
  • Silver plating for art
  • Coins and currency
  • Dental alloys
  • Medical products, such as surgical pins and plates
  • Photographic film, paper (accounts for nearly a quarter of fabrication silver demand)

Silver is the most conductive element on the periodic table of elements, followed by copper and then by gold. Silver owes its conductivity to its single valence electron, moving freely between atoms of silver. Due to the high price of silver, it is not typically used in wiring but can be found in high value electronics. Copper is more typically used as its price and conductivity are suitably matched for use in household appliances.

History of Silver

Silver has long been prized by people around the world. The metal is easy to work with, can be used for different purposes, and it’s attractive. Silver was used to make up currency such as coins and was used in utensils, ornaments, jewelry, decorations, and so much more through the centuries. Now, a brief summary of the history of silver.

Silver coins from ancient Greece

Ancient Civilizations

Ancient peoples used silver for many things. It was used for jewelry, for eating utensils, and for ornamental purposes. Silver mining can be traced back to 3,000 B.C. in Greece and Turkey. Ancient people were able to refine the element by heating silver ore, using a cupellation process to blow air over it. As a result, base metals would oxidize and separate, leaving the silver to be then worked further.

1500-1800 A.D.

In 1492, the Europeans arrived at what they called the New World. It was then that the explorers from Spain realized that South America was home to a fortune. It had veins of silver as well as silver ore ready to be exploited. The Spanish mined the silver and from 1500 to 1800, the majority of silver produced in the world would come from Bolivia, Mexico, and Peru (85%).

Industrial Age

With so many practical industrial purposes, silver in industry was an important part of the Industrial Revolution. Around 1750, an age was beginning, powered by the fossil fuels that provided the energy that pushed it forward. Machines and factories could now run on the large amounts of oil, coal, and natural gas that were being produced. Silver’s malleability gave it a variety of uses and meant that it could make up different products on its own or as part of its alloy. It was also used in a monetary application as well, in currency and in national reserves.

Modern Times

Silver is especially an important element in modern times. Many countries produce silver, including the United States, Mexico, Peru, Canada, Australia, China, Poland, Russia, Bolivia, and Chile, to name a few of the large-scale producers. The metal continues to be a popular material used to make up everything from tableware and silverware to jewelry, mirrors, alloys, batteries, and more.

Silver in Jewelry and Luxury Goods

Silver finds practical and aesthetic use in silver jewelry as well as luxury goods. These products also serve as a large portion of the demand for silver. Silverware, jewelry and industrial use account for about 70% of the demand for the metal’s fabrication. Since pure silver is actually too soft to make up the entirety of the product, sterling silver is often a practical choice. The alloy is made up of 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper, with variations or different metals sometimes used.

Silver is a frequent choice for many types of jewelry. Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, bangles, and more are usually offered in two options, silver or gold. But silver is also increasingly starting to prove useful when it comes to being incorporated into clothing. The antimicrobial properties of this metal means that silver nanoparticles may be woven into clothing, which discourages bacterial build up and provides a luxury material that is more breathable and comfortable to wear.

Sterling silver necklace
Sterling silver necklace

Other luxury goods that feature silver are electronics. Electronics frequently use silver as part of their wiring. It is also a necessary ingredient for photographic film, which accounts for a large range of the demand for the silver (25%). Silver jewelry and similar aesthetic items also make up a smaller but substantial demand for silver production. The element is also used in art to make up silver plating.

Silver as a Reserve Commodity

Silver is in demand as a reserve commodity much like gold, and has been used to back currencies in the past. Silver reserves are used as countries as a type of security. Silver continues to hold value, thus countries set silver aside. In 2019, Peru had a silver reserve that had reached 120,000 tons.

10oz bars of silver from the Royal Canadian Mint