The web says the report from Morgenstern, Vick, and Van Zyl (MVV) on Mt Polley will be release on Saturday.  Apparently the report goes to the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and the affected First Nations on Friday.  We, the common herd, will have to wait a day while they read the report and prepare statements.  We hope it is but twenty-four hours we have to wait while they circle the wagons.  Strange they cannot release the report to the public at the same time as the release to the First Nations and MEM. Of course they do not trust the common herd.  British imperial secrecy and elite class instincts dictate otherwise.

Today I was asked: “How do I read the report?  What do I look for?  What should I note?  What is most important to seek out in the report?”

Here are some question guidelines–if you have others please comment.

  • Have they identified the engineering causes of failure, and what are they?
  • Do they identify responsible (guilty) parties and who are they?
  • Do they recommend actions to prevent ongoing tailings failure (at least four a year)?  And if so what do they recommend?
  • Do they ascribe failure to individual, corporate, institutional, or technical factors, and if so what are they?
  • Do they address all the issues in their scope of work and if not why not?


That is enough and will be the basis of my reading and review of the document.  But there are other things to ask and answer while reading the report.  Here are some:

  • Are they in agreement, or is there a minority opinion (probably the correct one)?
  • Do they comment on the many submissions they sought and if not, why not?
  • Do they agree with the Imperial Metal’s findings of the cause of failure?  Apparently Imperial Minerals has prepared and submitted to someone such a report.  Not public, obviously, and maybe not even given to the MVV panel.
  • Do we get the currently embargoed reports considered by the MVV panel, or they still secret until the next two panels publish their findings?
  • When will Hatch make public the many documents demanded by MEM on each and every BC tailings facility?  Or are these too to be embargoed until……?
  • What are the political and legal implications of the MVV findings?

On this latter point,  I have been informed that I could be subpoenaed in one or more of the many possible law cases to follow.  Crazy!  My first defence:  I am a blogger; my opinions are hearsay;  I have a law degree and was taught all the tricks of the law;  I am no expert, just opinionated; there are many others of far greater knowledge and insight than me; no jury will hear me–they will hear only my accent, not what I say.

So download the report when it is available.  Read it, keeping in mind it took six months and many of Thurber Consultants hours to prepare.  Be not too hasty to report or offer opinion.  For hopefully there is deep insight in the report and we will need time to think and opine.  And we probable will not have access to the documents considered by the MVV folk.

One day when fully retired I will write the definitive history of Mt Polley tailings facility failure.  Then they can burn me at the stake and spread my ashes atop the Royal Mountain King tailings facility.  All the while singing the trio Soave Sia il Vento from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tuti.  In Italian:

Soave sia il vento
Tranquilla sia l’onda
Ed ogni elemento
Benigno risponda
Ai nostri desir

Or in English:

Gentle be the breeze,
Calm be the waves,
And every element
Smile in favour
On their wish

What a conclusion to the reading of the MVV report and to a life well lived.



Some salaries for those working at U.S. metal and industrial mineral mines.  The data were collect the second half of 2014.  These data I take from the recently issued Cost Mine 2014 Survey Results U.S. Metal and Industrial Mineral Mine Salaries, Wages and Benefits. First some overall nation-wide averages by job title.  The first number is annual salary in thousands of dollars for U.S. underground mines; the second for U.S. surface mines. Continue Reading »


It is late and maybe I should go to bed.  But before I do I am compelled to write about the Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) decision not to release it rating of the Mt Polley tailings facility compiled just before the failure. Below I repeat what Gordon Hoekstra writes.  He is a pretty intelligent and informed reporter, so read it carefully and consider.  What is all boils down to is this: Continue Reading »


A comment on yesterday’s posting comparing wages on small versus large U.S. Metal and Industrial Mineral Mine Salaries, Wages, and Benefits from the CostMine 2014 survey reads thus: Continue Reading »


I have just received the CostMine 2014 Survey Results for U.S. Metal and Industrial Mineral Mine Salaries, Wages, and Benefits. In this and future blog postings I will provide some data from the survey and comment on trends that intrigue me. Here first a look at the impact on wages of working for a small mine as compared to working for a large mine. The Survey notes on this topic: Continue Reading »


In Edward O. Wilson’s new book The Meaning of Human Existence, he asks the following question:

Are human beings intrinsically good but corruptible by the forces of evil, or the reverse, innately sinful yet redeemable by the forces of good? Are we built to pledge our lives to a group, even to the risk of death, or the opposite, built to place ourselves and our families above all else.

Continue Reading »


A small, sad band of ragged people protested in front of our building today.  Our building houses Imperial Metals and the Mt Polley Mining Company.  The front doors were locked; three security guards held their post; and the elevators worked only if you swiped your access card. Continue Reading »


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