The planned restart of the Mount Polley Mine, with a focus on safeguarding the environment, is good news for the communities that count on the mine as a key economic generator, say local MLAs.

Earlier today, the statutory decision-makers with the ministries of Energy and Mines and Environment conditionally authorized the Mount Polley Mine Corporation to begin restricted operations.

“This has been a stressful time for the communities, the workers and all the families that rely on the mine’s safe operation,” says Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes. “Everyone connected to the mine wanted to see it reopen but it was very important that it be done methodically and that the plan ensures the environment is protected. Today’s announcement is this first step in a process to have the mine up and running fully in a sustainable way.”

The Mount Polley Mine Corporation estimates it will take about 30 days before it can begin production now that ministry staff have amended the company’s Mines Act and Environmental Management Act permits. During restricted operations, the company expects to provide jobs for up to 220 workers.

“A lot of hard work has gone into getting this stage, with local leaders, First Nations, the company and the union all having a part in getting to where we are,” says Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “But this is only the first step – there’s a lot of work still ahead and we must be vigilant to make sure the highest standards are being met. The mine is vitally important to this region and so is the environment. Today, we’re showing you can have a resource economy and respect the environment.”

The amended Mines Act permit authorizes the company to operate at roughly half the rate of normal operations. The tailings facility will not be utilized during the operation. Mount Polley Mine will use Springer Pit, an existing open pit on the mine site, to manage the tailings.