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Archive for the ‘Tailings’ Category

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We grow old.  Let us live in excess and expire in a whirlwind of pleasure.  Let us go from joy to joy and die in contentment.  Let us forget the past and love each new day in the intensity of life well lived.  Let us fade into the mist of a faint fall. And recall past springs and enjoy all new springs.  For life is summer, albeit winter will come.

We went to Coquitlam on Saturday to see Der Meistersinger von Nuremberg from the MET.  Pork alley is the kindest comment.  All the singers were very fat or tending to very fat and so ugly that we recoiled in horror.  Maybe they had good voices, and their mass on the stage is impressive.  But on the screen they were simply gross.  Most of the audience left after the second act.  Pity for the third act is the best and least populated by fatties.  Or at least the fattiest faded into the mass of a superb chorus.

Then tonight I watched a DVD of La Traviata and slim singers.  Beautiful.  And good singing to boot.  That is what modern, highly visual, opera is all about.

Last night we supped and talked of exs–past spouses and their follies and our lost loves and current pleasures.  How can it be that so many have deviated from marriage vows to folly and indulgence to the distress of us?

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No problem in understanding.  Consider but the stupidity and folly of BC tailings facilities.  Here is one report:

 Alliance Releases Scene of the Crime, a New Report Analysis of the Mount Polley Mine’s Tailings Storage Facility

Vancouver: 17 weeks after one of the world’s largest (by volume) heavy metals tailings catastrophes struck, smothered and polluted Hazeltine Creek near the western arm of Quesnel Lake, the BC Tap Water Alliance’s Coordinator and author, Will Koop, has released the first investigative report on Imperial Metals Corporation’s tailings dam, which engineers often refer to as a Tailings Storage Facility (TSF). The Scene of the Crime: A Preliminary Analysis and History of the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Storage Facility, provides an assessment from government and company documents probing the history and inner workings of a terrible tragedy.

At the centre of this history was an understanding and a purpose conveyed to the public in 1990 that the tailings impoundment would be carefully constructed and safely maintained so as to last an eternity, “in perpetuity.” The question is raised in the report’s Executive Summary, that if such was its purpose then “why did the Mount Polley Mining Corporation, (MPMC), wholly-owned by Imperial Metals Corporation, fail so miserably in its promise to British Columbians to do so?”

The Executive Summary states the following about this critical question:

“The findings of this preliminary / interim report provide important clues and disturbing insights for this crucial question, and for other related questions, findings that reveal a long-held trail of company carelessness, stupidity and incompetence, as randomly catalogued from 2008 to 2010 by its former Engineer of Record in only three among many annual TSF inspection reports that have been published for public review from 1998 to 2013.

In association are implications that the provincial mining regulator may have failed to properly implement its “duty of care” to British Columbians in preventing this tragedy, those public lands and waters which have been entrusted through legislation to the regulator’s legal service and administrative jurisdiction.

The findings in this preliminary report help stimulate an inevitable and sobering conclusion – that the Mount Polley mine tailings storage catastrophe could have been, and should have been, preventable. And, therefore the big questions: was this an environmental crime scene, and was there a previous and subsequent cover-up?”

If what the author writes is substantiated as fact, this will be a case that is a long time in the courts, could see some professional engineers in jail, and some consultants driven into bankruptcy.   No regulators will be reprimanded, although maybe they should be reprimanded.  No wonder the regulators have refused to make public any of the reports, many of which the author named above has unearthed.

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See also what Gordon Hoekstra writes at this link.

• At Taseko’s Gibraltar mine, following a geotechnical inspection in May, the government called for an investigation into an unusual increase in water-level readings in one of the instruments in the East Saddle Dam.

In an interview, Warnock said he has not been satisfied with the company’s response and is seeking more details.

Taseko spokesman Brian Battison said that following its investigation it recently installed upgraded instrumentation at the East Saddle Dam.

• NewGold’s New Afton mine was instructed in 2013 to report on the potential for settlement and its effects on the dam after a 15-metre-long crack was discovered parallel to the crest of Dam B. Warnock said the company has done that satisfactorily.

In an interview, Scott Davidson, the environment and social responsibility manager at New Afton, said the dam has been designed to accommodate settling, which caused the cracking, but some additional instrumentation was put in place.

There’s been no additional cracking, he said .Davidson said they have informed local First Nations and the regional district about the crack. “Ultimately, we want to be open and transparent. Especially given Mount Polley, it’s in everyone’s best interest,” said Davidson.

• At Highland Valley Copper near Kamloops, a government geotechnical inspection noted in 2013 that some reports had not been delivered on time, but added the company had developed a “very comprehensive” tailings management training program for workers and contractors.

• At Copper Mountain mine near Princeton, a failure of a tailings pipe was noted last May, which required more monitoring. At the closed Equity Silver mine near Houston, the government inspector noted in 2013 that upgrades to spillways need to be completed.

• At Huckleberry in northern B.C., also owned by Imperial Metals, the government inspection on Aug. 12 found no issues.

I suspect there is more, but we have had no time to examine and consider in full.  Too engaged in opera and parties with folk who have unfaithful exs.

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This evening I watched the Mariinsky version of Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet.  This is the only ballet I like.  Mostly because of the music.  And, I suspect, because once I could recite the entire Shakespeare play.  (I was Friar Lawrence in the  high school production.)  And now in the ballet I can hear the words of every emotion.

Is there anything more moving than Juliet’s dance with her nurse?  Juliet is so innocent and joyous in anticipation of the party planned for that evening.  Better is the dance between Romeo and Juliet at the party, when they meet and fall in love.  Better is the balcony scene when they pledge their love.  No, even better is the scene at Friar Lawrence’s cell when they marry.  And the best is the morning of the night they consummate their love & marriage.

I can still hear those words:

JULIET:
Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree.
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

ROMEO
It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

For us ordinary mortals, obsessed by the silliness of Mt Polley, and publically oblivious of the delights of love, tomorrow brings the first of the reports on every tailings facility in British Columbia.  As noted in this report:

As the Dec. 1 deadline approaches for mines in B.C. to submit independent dam safety inspection reports, the Ministry of Energy and Mines announced it has selected Hatch Ltd. to assist with the oversight of the review process.

Currently there are 98 permitted tailings impoundments at 60 operating and closed metal and coal mines in B.C. All of them will be required to submit the inspection reports.

“We will know the final status of the submissions by midnight on Dec. 1, which is the deadline set by the Chief of Inspector of Mines,” ministry spokesperson, David Haslam told the Tribune.

Normally permitted mines are required to conduct a dam safety inspection each year, but when the tailings impoundment breached at Mount Polley Mine on Aug. 4, releasing 17 million cubic metres of water and 8 million cubic metres of tailings, Chief Inspector of Mines Al Hoffman issued an order requiring every mining facility in the province submit reports by the deadline.

New was the requirement that the inspections be reviewed by an independent qualified third-party professional engineer from a firm not associated with their tailings facilities, the ministry said.

“The order also included a requirement for a third-party review of the dam consequence classifications by Dec. 1, 2014,” the ministry noted in a press release. “A dam’s consequence classification is based on the potential impact to population, 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 submit Dam Break Inundation Studies and Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans which have been reviewed by a qualified professional engineer.

Hatch Ltd. was awarded the $305,000 contract and will assist the Ministry of Energy and Mines with reviewing all of the submissions to ensure consistency and compliance, work with First Nations and establish a platform to release all submissions to the public in approximately eight weeks.

Additionally members of the public and informed interest groups wishing to make submissions to the three-member independent Mount Polley Mine review panel have until Dec. 7, 2014.

Information on how to submit information can be found at http://www.mountpolleyreviewpanel.ca.

I saw the first of these on Friday.  Wow!  If they are all like this, all hell is about to break loose!  But then maybe not all will be as brutally honest as the one I saw.  I hope they are all honest, brutally honest, for the jolt, the wake-up call will forever change mining waste management, not only in BC but worldwide.  Stand by, it will be an interesting week if Hatch can get their act together and let the public see the reports as they come in.  Although I am told many have applied for an extension: work not done; opinions too strong; crowd control not ready; and lawyers in uproar.

Oh for a Friar Lawrence to tame the passions that the reports will arouse. For if no Lawrence, the entire BC mining industry will be singing and dancing to these words:

It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

No matter.  Tomorrow night I shall take Viagra, go to my lover, and we will fuck, regardless of the state of BC or international mining.  Existential pleasure transcends politics, MEM, or the state of the environment.

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The Tyee, a local Vancouver e-newspaper with a decidedly liberal bent today published an article on peer review of Mt Polley.  David Ball is the author of the piece.  I think he did a good job in balancing the opinions. I admit to being hopelessly prejudiced in this opinion.  For if you read David’s piece, you will note that he quotes me and Nordie Morgenstern.  David called me a while ago and asked how I would have gone about preventing Mt Polley and how I would go about preventing future Mt Polleys.  We talked long about peer review.  To his credit he checked what I was telling him by contacting Nordie Morgenstern.  He also established that there is currently only one tailings facility in BC that has a peer review board. (more…)

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This picture and the others in this posting were taken by me at Knotsberry Farm in California.
A great place to visit and enjoy a terrifying ride along the raging river of insanity.

If you seek a thorough and intelligent analysis of dealing with uranium mill sites (and particularly the tailings facility) take a look at the following–it is an amazingly comprehensive document–and should be required reading for all involved in mine management, regardless of whether the mine is uranium, copper, gold, or something else. (more…)

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The PowerPoints of presentations from the Tailings and Mine Waste Conference in Keystone are now available.  At least the PowerPoints of those authors who gave permission.  See this link.

They are all interesting, so choose those that interest you.

I recommend the presentation by Steve Vick who is one of the reviewers of the failure of the Mt Polley tailings facility.  He assures me that he compiled the presentation before the failure and there is no connection between what he says in his presentation and what he might say in the panel findings.

The presentation by Franco Oboni touches on the same topics as Vick’s but takes a different approach.

I particularly like the presentation by Craig Benson on the hydrologic performance of final covers.  He concludes that we can and have constructed covers to last for at least 1,000 years.

I am sure there is much to say about these presentations and indeed the other presentations, so please comment.

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A million here.  A million there.  Who cares?  It is just taxpayer money spent by your local government providing the services you expect to be provided at no cost!  Just learnt that HATCH has been awarded a contract by the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) to review the independent reviews of BC tailings dams that MEM ordered pursuant to the failure of Mt Polley. (more…)

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Here is information I received as a comment on a recent blog posting:

California is an anomaly from the perspective that it is only one of 5 or 6 states or territories that do not recognize mining as an engineering discipline; along with Guam, Hawaii, Delaware and a couple of others. The need for being registered is driven primarily by the State Boards. There are several places in the industry where signatures are required: on 10K reports for certification of reserves. This requires a “qualified person” and since there are 20 states that don’t recognize geologists as a profession, then the role may be defined as engineering in some cases. There are a plethora of state and federal mining permits requiring a PE signature. Underground seals must be constructed and signed off by a PE. Roof Control and Ventilation plans and many environmental permits require signatures. As I said, California is one of the exceptions and I really don’t understand why mining is ignored when mining was at the core of the state’s formation. I will say that the lack of recognition by the State has caused some confusion regarding liability and accountability.

(more…)

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