Mount Polley Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel

On August 4, 2014 the tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley Mine site breached and released an estimated 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of fine sand into Polley Lake. Contaminated water flowed out through Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake.

In response to this event the Government of British Columbia with the support of the Soda Creek Indian Band and Williams Lake Indian Band ordered an independent engineering investigation and inquiry into the breach incident.

The independent investigation and review is authorized under Section 8 of the Ministry of Energy and Mines Act.

On August 18, 2014, an independent review panel of three geotechnical experts was established to investigate into and report on the breach of the tailings storage facility (TSF) at the Mount Polley Mine on August 4, 2014.

The three panel members are: Norbert Morgenstern, Chair; Steven G. Vick; and Dirk Van Zyl.  All are experienced geotechnical experts with particular expertise in tailings management facilities.

In accordance with its Terms of Reference the panel is expected in its report will identify:

  1. any mechanism(s) of failure of the TSF;
  2. any technical, management or other practices that may have enabled or contributed to the mechanism(s) of failure (and thus may include an independent review of design, construction, operation, maintenance, surveillance and regulation of the facility);
  3. any changes that could be considered to reduce the potential for future such occurrences.

The Review Panel is currently in the process of conducting its investigation. The Review Panel will provide a Report on its findings to the Minister of Energy and Mines, the Soda Creek Indian Band and the Williams Lake Indian Band by January 31, 2015.