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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quarter 4, 2020
Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call
February 3, 2020
Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call
Environmental monitoring programs and closure research projects at Mount
Polley mine site continue as planned. Remediation
construction at the lower Hazeltine Creek and Edney Creek began this summer.
Mount Polley staff, with assistance from Golder Associates Ltd., have begun development
of the 2022 Water Management Plan.
include regular water quality and toxicity sampling at:
water treatment plant (WTP)
surface waters of Polley Lake, Bootjack Lake, Hazeltine
Creek, Edney Creek & Quesnel Lake
mine contact waters including groundwater &
mine seepage with flow rates
Regular inspections of
all critical ditches, sumps, ponds, pumping systems and pipelines.
Ongoing surveys and
spawning activity in Hazeltine & Edney Creeks
remediated terrestrial habitats; vegetation growth, nesting sites and wildlife usage
aquatic habitats; fish population & tissue, zooplankton, phytoplankton, benthic invertebrates and sediments in Bootjack, Polley & Quesnel Lakes
dilution modelling of the Quesnel Lake discharge
semi-passive and passive water treatment options for closure which include a constructed wetland treatment system pilot study and a saturated rock fill bench scale test
Mount Polley takes water quality very seriously. Extensive monitoring is evidencing the effectiveness of the remediation and site water management programs undertaken by Mount Polley.
How is water quality monitored in Polley and Quesnel Lakes to ensure proper environmental monitoring is being carried out?
Mount Polley follows the BC-ENV approved Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan. The results for all our monitoring sites are published in the publicly available Annual Environmental and Reclamation Reports.
Polley Lake water met all BC Water Quality Guidelines for aquatic life parameters in 2019 with the exception of phosphorus, which was elevated even prior to mining. As Polley Lake is immediately adjacent to the mine site, this indicates the mine is doing a very good job of capturing and controlling run-off.
A number of sites are monitored in Quesnel Lake, and in 2019 there were no exceedances of acute BC Water Quality Guidelines.
At one monitoring site in Quesnel Lake, there was one minor copper exceedance of chronic BC Water Quality Guidelines in 2019, but as copper is also naturally occurring in the native soils and sediments around Quesnel Lake, and there are a number of creeks that empty into the lake near this sample site, it is difficult to know if this exceedance was natural or related to the mine.
We often get asked if we continue to discharge into Polley Lake or Quesnel Lake?
The mine discharges mine site water, that meets strict permit limits, through diffusers at depth into Quesnel Lake. This water is the only substance the mine is discharging to Quesnel Lake. The mine does not discharge water into Polley Lake.
Mount Polley discharges only mine site water that meets strict Environmental Management Act (EMA) permit guidelines.
treated by a water treatment plant, when needed to meet permit requirements, before being released into Quesnel Lake. The water going into the treatment plant (influent) is monitored on an ongoing basis, and the treated water leaving the plant (effluent) is sampled regularly for analysis. Not all water at Mount Polley requires treatment to meet EMA permit water quality guidelines before discharge, and in the past, water that was simply stored in Springer Pit was found suitable for passive discharge.
The lake water quality is also routinely monitored and sampled regularly as part of the mine’s Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan.
Continued monitoring data confirm that remediation efforts are effective.
Currently, there are no indications in the monitoring data that the water discharged from Mount Polley is having any negative effects on Quesnel Lake water quality or aquatic life.
If you are interested in looking at water quality data collected on surface water in the area around the Mount Polley mine, in addition to data in the mine’s annual reports, results are available through the BC Government Surface Water Monitoring Sites Interactive Map.
Did you know that over the past six
years, over 39 community meetings have been organized and hosted by Mount
Polley management and environmental staff?
Mount Polley is committed to the
environment and to ensuring the community is kept up to date on remediation
Over 24 meetings have been held in
Likely, the community in closest proximity to the Mount Polley mine. Meetings
have also been held in the communities of Quesnel, Horsefly, Big Lake and
These meetings provide an opportunity
for local residents to learn about the activities and progress of the
remediation work and research programs being conducted, and the opportunity to
engage and ask questions.
There is still work being done to
complete the rebuilding of fish habitat in Hazeltine Creek. The rebuilding and
revegetating of the lower part of the creek will be the last part of the
remediation work to be done.
Guest speakers have included
consultants and representatives from provincial Ministries who help educate the
local community about environmental remediation.
Furthermore Mount Polley has
established The Mount Polley Mine Public Liaison Committee (PLC).The PLC is
comprised of representatives from the local communities of Likely, Big Lake,
Horsefly and Williams Lake, local First Nations, government ministries,
consultants and mine staff.
Meetings are held on a quarterly basis,
with the purpose to share information about activities at the mine site with
the PLC members, who are there as representatives of their communities. The
agenda for each meeting includes updates on mine operations, environmental
monitoring, and remediation. There is also a roundtable discussion at each
meeting for all participants to pose questions and discuss any community
Extensive remediation work in the areas affected by the 2014 breach at Mount Polley has been achieved during the past five years.
Over $70 million dollars has been spent on clean-up work, including environmental impact and risk assessment studies, and remediation and monitoring of areas impacted by the spill.
Throughout 2019, the environmental department collected 1,115 water and soil samples. 336 surface water, 234 lake samples, 104 contact water, 77 groundwater, 181 seep, and 153 soil/other samples.
The construction on Hazeltine Creek concluded at the beginning of October and will re-commence at Lower Hazeltine in the Spring of 2020. The flow of Hazeltine Creek was monitored monthly.
There are 3 on-site environmental technicians to do the water sampling, environmental monitoring, inspections including reporting, database, spreadsheet data entry, communication, and coordinating meetings/tours.
Even though environmental monitoring slows down in the winter months, the environmental staff remain busy in the office with reporting, data entry, database management, scheduling, meetings, shoveling snow and general cleaning duties.
We continue to work hard to exemplify the highest site remediation standards and look forward to updating you as our work continues.