Archive for the ‘British Columbia’ Category

It is that time of the year age when Saturday mornings and early afternoons are taken up with a visit to the movie house in Coquitlam and another MET opera.  Unusually sunny start to the season.  Still just cool enough to feel good to head indoors and settle back to opera.

Today was Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.  I have seen this opera many times, but every time it delights—except for that interminable final act that goes on and on in silly plot and pottiness.

The tunes are now impressed in my brain which dances to each one as it comes up in turn.  And the singers were great; a good acting & singing show.  And eliciting pleasure with their amazing skills.  It is hard to point one out as better than the others–they were all superb.

I found the set stupid and distracting.  Far too big for what is an intimate story, in fact a slightly private and steamy tale.  Those strange towers going everywhere and nowhere simply did not fit in with the little human drama going on below.    Granted all the singers looked good in pretty mundane clothes that could have come off grandma and grandpa’s hangers—but what is the point?

Discussions of ius prima nocte just don’t fit in action set in the 1930.  Yet this law is central to the story–the elephant in the room.  And that could only have been before the French Revolution.  Hence set the opera in a way that the original story line and plot devices and social strains do not have to be pulled & pushed out of recognition.

This production makes the most of the sexual over and undertones of the plot.  Maybe a little more than was intended by the creators of the opera.  Still the sexual innuendo was strained if one faces it in the 1930s, instead of so long ago when these were real issues that did indeed eventually lead to revolution.

In spite of my quibbles, we enjoyed the production which was saved by Mozart’s music and sound singing and acting.  Anther great start to the winter opera season.


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At this link is an announcement that the BC regulators are seeking proposals from consultants to help them evaluate the independent dam safety analyses they have ordered be done by independent folk on all the tailings facilities in BC.

Dam Safety Inspection Review is the heading.  Here is the full announcement — it is fascinating for what it tells and what it does not tell.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a qualified contractor to assist with  the oversight of the process for independent third-party reviews of Dam Safety inspections for every permitted mine tailings storage facility in British Columbia.

Permitted mines are required to conduct a dam safety inspection each year. As part of the response to the tailings storage facility breach at the Mount Polley Mine, the Chief Inspector of Mines accelerated the deadline for this year’s inspections to Dec. 1, 2014, and added a requirement for these inspections to be reviewed by an independent qualified third-party professional engineer from a firm not associated with the tailings facility.

The order also includes a requirement for a third-party review of the dam consequence classifications by Dec. 1, 2014. A dam’s consequence classification is based on the potential impact to population, the environment, cultural values and infrastructure should it fail, and is set according to the Canadian Dam Association Dam Safety Guidelines. Under the order, mines with high, very high or extreme consequence classifications will be required to have their Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans reviewed by an independent third-party.

The successful proponent will be required to have geotechnical expertise and will assist the Ministry of Energy and Mines with reviewing submissions to ensure consistency and compliance, working with First Nations throughout the process and producing a report on the information collected, including the release of all submissions to the public.

Once the inspections and the independent reviews of those inspections have been received, the review and analysis of those reports is expected to take a minimum of eight weeks to complete. Once the review is complete, all information will be made public.

There are currently 98 permitted tailings impoundments at 60 operating and closed metal and coal mines in B.C.

Here is the link to the official call for proposals. One limitation:

Proposals will not be evaluated if the Proponent’s current or past corporate or other interests may, in the Province’s opinion, give rise to a conflict of interest in connection with the project described in this Request for Proposals.

More specifically, the proposer should be prepared to do the following:

1) Establish a platform and protocols for the public release of all submissions that is publically
accessible and user friendly. Develop and implement a strategy to respond to public inquiries
surrounding the content of the released documents.

2) Develop and implement, with the Ministry and First Nations Energy and Mining Council and
other First Nations groups as appropriate and determined by the Ministry, a mechanism to
engage First Nations with regard to the dam safety inspection reports.

3) Consistent high-level review of all submissions:
a. Dam Safety Inspection (DSI) Reports – to be reviewed for consistency with the Dam
Safety Inspection Guidelines (the Ministry’s Internal Document) and good engineering
b. Third-party review of DSI Reports – to be reviewed for consistency with the spirit of the
Order and good engineering practice.
c. Commitment from Mine Manager to complete recommended works, and proposed
schedule for these works – to be reviewed for consistency with the DSI and third-party
review recommendations. May require follow-up with the engineers who conducted the
reviews to gauge the “reasonableness” of the proposed mitigation schedule for any
particular recommendations.
d. Dam Break Inundation Study – to be reviewed for consistency with good engineering
e. Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan – to be reviewed for consistency with the
Canadian Dam Association Dam Safety Guidelines and good engineering practice.
f. Summary of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan Test – to be reviewed for
consistency with standard industry practice. Tests may range from table top exercises to
full mock emergency exercises.

4) Synthesis Report – to include factual data surrounding the review process, number of
submissions, any outstanding reports (with proposed submission dates), common themes or
recommendations, anticipated questions and answers (Q & A) to assist the public in absorbing
the vast quantity of material, and any other significant factors relevant to the Order and Industry  Response.

5) Data-entry of all report submissions to the Ministry’s report inventory spreadsheet.

6) Follow-up with mining companies to ensure compliance with all submission requirements. This  would have two components:
a. Phase 1 – to ensure that submission requirements are satisfied and to communicate to the
mine that follow-up will occur to ensure mine commitments resulting from report
recommendations are satisfied

7) Provide a summary of activities undertaken as part of the contract mandate and recommend a
cost and resource effective approach to making future dam safety inspection reports publicly
available including a framework for receipt, filing, review, synthesis, and managing public and
First Nations engagement.

All good ideas.  But why do we need private consultants to do what is essentially a government responsibility?  Maybe this is the ultimate in commercialization of the regulatory oversight function.

As a blogger I am probably automatically excluded.  But you can be sure the big out-of-province and out-of-country consultants are sharpening their pencils.


PS.  Above is a pretty awful reproduction of the 2009  cross section of the embankment that failed at Mt Polley.  I showed it to Andy Robertson this evening without telling him where it is.  His response: “That is the so-called modified center-line section.  For years I have said it is the wrong thing to do.  I have said it will fail and besmirch the name of center-line embankments.”  When I told him it was of Mt Polley, he shook his head in despair.

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The first day of presentations at the Tailings and Mine Waste 2014 Conference.  Gordon McPhail delivered a talk in honor of Geoff Blight, who passed away earlier this year.  Geoff made so many contributions to tailings that we were talking for at least an hour about him and his genius.  I honor him here in the only way I know:  record my opinion that he was one of the great of tailings. (more…)

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Woke up late this morning after twelve hours sleep—seems the older I get the more I want to sleep.  Maybe it is old age or maybe riding my bicycle to work tires out the old body.  Or maybe there is something breaking down inside that the doctors cannot discern. (more…)

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I have written extensively in this blog about the Alberta Directive 74. Generally I have been derogatory about the Directive. For example at this link I write the following: (more…)

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To end the week, here are a few unrelated postings on the web about things mining. At this link, David Stockman of North American Business Development gives an interview on the topic Dry Tailings Stack vs Wet Tailings Pond.  Make sure to click on the rather obscure play buttons to hear him tell how Mt Polley could have been avoided had it been a dry stack and not a wet pond. At this link is a video showing Pascal Saunier and family singing.  Pascal is of Draintube fame and was one of the presenters at this week’s conference on Geosynthetics in Mining. At this link, available for download is RepRisk’s report on the Ten Most Controversial Mining Projects.  Mt Polley and Obed Mountain of Canada are included.  Here is what they say of Obed Mountain in case you forgot about this one: (more…)

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We have just finished the InfoMine Conference on geosynthetics in mining.  I think it was a success although I had better await the evaluation forms before coming to definitive conclusions. The proceedings will be available through the InfoMine e-Store at this link.  In my opinion, this is a magnificent collection of papers on a topic that has long cried for detailed, focussed attention. For the use of geosynthetics in mining is different to the use of geosynthetics in landfills and other civil engineering application.  The mining projects that involve the use of geosynthetics are orders of magnitude larger than any other category of projects.  The challenges are greater: there are few precedents; there are no substantive regulations; and the consequences of use and misuse are greater. (more…)

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