Pinchi mine reclamation

The Pinchi Mine is being reclaimed, after being dormant since 1975.

Dormant Properties, which is the current version of the company which has owned the mine since its beginning, is working on an approximately $20 million reclamation of the mercury mine site.

The Pinchi Mine is being reclaimed, after being dormant since 1975.

Dormant Properties, which is the current version of the company which has owned the mine since its beginning, is working on an approximately $20 million reclamation of the mercury mine site.

The site is 25 km outside of Fort St. James on a limestone hill on the north shore of Pinchi Lake, and was operated as both an open pit and underground mine.

The mine operated during the Second World War from 1940 to 1944 to produce mercury for the war effort, but was closed when demand, and consequently, prices dropped.

In 1968, updated technology was used to put in a new processing plant and production resumed until 1975.

A drop in metal prices then caused the mine to be closed once again, but it was left dormant rather than closed indefinitely due to the additional untapped reserves.

However, as knowledge of mercury’s environmental impact increased and possibly due in part to less favourable metals prices, the mine was never reopened.

The company then began conducting a series of comprehensive environmental studies of the area in the 1990’s, according to Bruce Donald, manager of Dormant Properties.

These studies “ultimately led to us developing a plan of permanent closure of the site,” said Donald.

The studies helped identify the main issues the company would need to deal with on the site, namely the hazardous materials left in the processor and the tailings on site.

Donald said the company has worked closely with both the Nak’azdli and Tl’azt’en First Nations since 2005.

Members of both communities are on the technical working group for the project. Donald said Dormant Properties worked with both communities to identify their concerns and develop the closure plan.

Before even going to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Donald said the company first got formal letters of approval for their plans from both chiefs and councils of the two First Nations.

The review process then took a year, and work was able to begin on September of last year.

The company has been working hard to utilize local resources for the project, according to Donald, and so far 40 per cent of the work force on the project has been First Nations.

“Hopefully the majority of the money that we’re spending stays in the community,” said Donald.

The reclamation of the site will involve demolition of the processor, which includes removing the hazardous materials from the buildings and shipping it to recycling or disposal facilities and nonhazardous materials then being placed in an open pit on site. The open pit will then be filled to ground level and topped with a low-permeability cap on it to shed the water off the landfill.

The large tailings impoundment area left from the mine’s operation was drained of water and will be capped with a ‘till’ cap made of clay-based soil to shed water.

The water drained from the tailings area was monitored as it was drained to ensure the water discharged was within acceptable limits.

Already, the reclamation of the site has nearly completed the demolition of the buildings and removed most of the hazardous materials, with a small amount still  to be shipped off site.

The tailings impoundment area has now been capped.

During the summer, the open pit will be filled and capped, the remaining mining portals to the underground operations will be sealed, the mill area will be recontoured and the revegetation process will be started.

While most of the work will be completed by this fall, Donald said some of the final revegetation will be done next spring. Neither Nak’azdli nor Tl’azt’en First Nations were able to be reached for comment

 

Just Posted

Here’s what Fort St. James councillors refused to hear

Citizens express frustration and anger

Citizens ejected from Municipal Hall – Locked out

Mayor refuses to allow discussion on controversial Bylaw regarding marijuana

UPDATED: 9 killed, 16 injured after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Toronto police say nine people have died and 16 are injured

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Malicious Monster Truck Tour coming to Northwest B.C. this summer

It’s the first time in 20 years monster trucks have rolled past Prince George for a northern show

Protesters argue both sides of B.C.’s SOGI curriculum at teachers’ union office

The sexual orientation and gender identity program was launched as a pilot project last year

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

Most Read