It may have been closed for nearly two decades but Brenda Mine above Peachland is included in an order by the provincial government that all permitted mines in B.C. conduct dam safety inspections in light of a major dam breach at a mine near Quesnel earlier this month.
The dam holding back water in the tailings pond at the Mount Polley mine failed, sending an estimated 10 million cubic metres of waste water from the pond into surrounding, previously pristine water bodies.
On Monday, Mines Minister Bill Bennett, in naming a three-member independent panel to investigate the Mount Polley disaster, said all other mines in the province must inspect and report their findings to government and have their findings independently verified by Dec. 1.
While no spokesperson for Brenda Mines parent company Glencore Canada Corp. could be reached in Toronto for comment prior to press deadline on Thursday, the shut-down local mine must do dam inspections each year as part of its permit for treating the water in its large tailings pond anyway.
The mine completed its latest inspection at the beginning of July and as a matter of course and has third-party verification of its inspections. So to meet the requirement of the government, mine officials is writing up their report now.
Annual inspections are required by all permitted mines in B.C. but the previous deadline for the 2014 report was March 31, 2015. There are 98 tailings ponds at 60 operating and closed mines in B.C.
Brenda Mine used to mine molybdenum and closed in the late 1990s. It’s post-operation waste water treatment permit requires all precipitation that comes in contact with exposed rock at the former mine be collected and stored either in the open pit or the tailings pond.
According to the mine’s website, the permit allows treated water to be discharged into McDonald Creek, which flows into Trepanier Creek and then Okanagan Lake. The treatment plant at Brenda mine reduces the concentration of molybdenum in the water to less than the permitted level of 0.25 milligrams per litre from 2.75 mg/l. In fact, the level of molybdenum in the treated water, according to the mine is just 0.06 mg/l
The mine has had a permit to treat its water since 1997 and the permit was most recently renewed in January of this year.