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Mount Polley COMMUNITY UPDATE

Q4 2021

A letter from the Mount Polley Team,

The Mount Polley mine team hopes that this finds you well and healthy.

The team at Mount Polley are continuing to prepare for a mine restart along with routine care and maintenance activities. We have many contractors on site and are actively recruiting talent for full operations.  If you are interested in a career in mining, please contact us at hr@mountpolley.com.

As we move closer to the end of the pandemic, we look forward to offering more opportunity for community engagement and more in-person tours.

MOUNT POLLEY MINE:
CARE AND MAINTENANCE

Below we cover key bulletins that highlight areas of focus with regards to Mount Polley mine’s care and maintenance as part of mine re-start towards the operations phase:

  • Environmental monitoring programs continue and are on track
  • Closure research projects continue as planned
  • Site water management continues, including the treatment of mine contract water through the Actiflo® water treatment plant
  • Springer Pit pre-stripping operations underway
  • Drilling and blasting
  • Restart planning
  • Mill and mine site repairs and upgrades
  • Electrical systems assessment and upgrades
  • Mobile equipment procurement, repairs, and upgrades
  • Site cleanup and general repairs
  • CANMAG magnetite plant maintenance and upkeep 
Figure 1 Limited pit operations have resumed in the Springer Pit.
Figure 2 Truck hauling ore to the stockpile

ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING UPDATE

Quarter 4 routine monitoring activities completed:

  • Weekly Water Treatment Plant (WTP) water quality sampling including monthly/quarterly toxicity sampling
  • Monthly water quality sampling at Hazeltine Creek
  • Monthly & quarterly water quality sampling of surface & mine-affected waters including groundwater mine seepage
  • Flow monitoring
  • Water quality sampling and monitoring of in-pit treatment at Springer and Cariboo pits
  • Monthly/quarterly site inspections
  • Reporting—monthly, quarterly, annual
  • Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan (CEMP) development/revision

Environmental monitoring is conducted in accordance with the Environmental Management Act (‘EMA’) Permit 11678, Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations and the approved Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan (‘CEMP’) requirements.

Figure 3  Ground water sampling equipment
Figure 4  River Otters caught on a wildlife camera near the Quesnel Lake shoreline

MPMC WATER TREATMENT PLANT OPERATIONS UPDATE

In Quarter 4 2021, the total treated water discharged to Quesnel Lake was ~1,680,605 mᵌ with an average daily discharge of ~18,267 mᵌ/day.

The plant operated continuously for most of the quarter.  Water quality samples were collected weekly at the WTP influent (E19) and effluent (HAD-3) sites throughout the this period.  Routine toxicity testing was completed on a monthly basis.

On October 27, 2021 a total copper exceedance was observed at the end of pipe sample location HAD-3, triggering a plant shut down and investigation.  The root cause was found to be a combination of water chemistry changes in the source water and high throughput at the plant.  The event triggered a response under our Annual Discharge Plan that included a plant shut down, placing the plant in recirculation mode (not discharging to the environment), requiring additional sampling and further investigation.  Sampling was conducted in Quesnel Lake on the same day and the results indicated that the waters met the BC Water Quality Guidelines for drinking water and aquatic life.

MPMC has applied to amend its Environmental Management Act permit 11678 to extend the discharge period to Quesnel Lake from 2022 to 2025.  This is an interim measure while a broader set of amendment requests are being prepared to allow for further mine development.  A future permit amendment application will request that the discharge period to Quesnel Lake be extended until the end of the mine life.  This amendment process is being conducted jointly with both the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI).

WATER TREATMENT PLANT PERFORMANCE UPDATE

Figure 5  Total copper concentrations in parts per million (mg/L) in the influent and effluent of the Actiflo® water treatment plant
Figure 6 Effluent discharge volumes in cubic meters per quarter from the Actiflo® water treatment plant

HAZELTINE AND EDNEY CREEK REMEDIATION

Due to winter season conditions, small-scale remediation work was completed in Quarter 4 of 2021.  Monitoring remains ongoing while planning is underway for 2022.

There is still outstanding terrestrial remediation work to be done.  Planting will resume next spring to address the disturbances created by the 2021/22 construction.  Some earthworks are planned for several small areas withing the Hazeltine Creek corridor and the Polley Lake shoreline.  All future planned work will involve recontouring existing topographical features, planting, and monitoring.

Remediation Update Gallery below are before and after photos that demonstrate the positive transformation of the remediation around the Hazeltine Creek and the Quesnel Lake shoreline. 

RE-START UPDATE

MPMC is targeting a workforce of approximately 355 employees at full scale operations. Currently, an average of 100 personnel per day are reporting to work at the mine.  This includes on-site staff and contractors. Work is currently being undertaken across the site to prepare for full operations.  Present activities are focused on electrical maintenance and upgrades, mobile equipment servicing and upgrades and mill assessment, maintenance and refurbishing amongst other things. Pit operations are underway with the mined material being stockpiled or stored in the waste rock disposal sites.

The grinding mills have been disassembled, inspected and repairs will continue to be performed before receiving a fresh coat of paint in preparation for the mine re-start in April, 2022.

Current Life of Mine Plan – Surface Mining Operations:

  • 11 years mining operations in the Springer/Cariboo combined pit
  • 1 year backhaul of PAG material into Springer pit after operations for subaqueous disposal
  • Construction of the Tailings Storage Facility to 987 meters   
Figure 7  Disassembled grinding mills

MPMC EVENTS

Quarter 1, 2022

January 19, 2022Xatśūll Community Engagement Meeting

January 27, 2022Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call

March 28, 2022Likely Community Engagement Meeting

Quarter 2, 2022

April 7, 2022Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call

RESOURCES

mountpolley.com

imperialmetals.com

BC Mine Information Page: https://mines.nrs.gov.bc.ca/

BC Ministry of Environment Natural Resource and Enforcement Database: https://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/ocers/searchApproved.do?submitType=menu

Interested applicants may send their resume and cover letter to: hr@mountpolley.com

Any questions regarding the Community Update, please email Gabriel Holmes at gabriel.holmes@mountpolley.com

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Uncategorized

Mount Polley Community Update Q3 2021

Happy fall everybody. Our team at Mount Polley hopes that this finds you well.

Things at the mine continue to get busier as we prepare for a mine re-start along with our routine care and maintenance activities. We have had many visitors to the site over the past few months, most of whom were contractors conducting work for the mine, but we have also offered several open-air tours covering various aspects of the mine. As we move closer to the end of the pandemic, we look forward to offering more opportunities for community engagement and more in-person tours.

MOUNT POLLEY MINE: CARE AND MAINTENANCE

Below we cover key bulletins that highlight areas of focus with regards to Mount Polley mine’s care and maintenance:

  1. The environmental monitoring
  2. Closure research projects continue programs continue and are on track as planned
  3. Site water management continues, including the near-continuous operation of the water treatment plant
  4. CANMAG plant maintenance and upkeep
  5. Lower Hazeltine Remediation area continues to be monitored and maintained

ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING UPDATE

Quarter 3 routine monitoring activities completed:

  • Weekly Water Treatment Plant (WTP) water quality sampling including monthly/quarterly toxicity sampling
  • Monthly water quality sampling at Hazeltine Creek
  • Monthly & Quarterly water quality sampling of surface & mine affected waters including groundwater mine seepage
  • Flow monitoring
  • Polley Lake, Bootjack Lake, Quesnel Lake water quality sampling
  • Water quality sampling and monitoring of in pit treatment at Springer and Cariboo pits
  • Monthly/quarterly site inspections
  • Reporting—monthly, quarterly, annual
  • Specialized monitoring components including plankton, Polley Lake fish population, fish tissue, habitat characterization, wildlife
  • CEMP development/revision

Environmental monitoring is conducted in accordance with the Environmental Management Act (EMA) Permit 11678, Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations and the approved Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan (CEMP) requirements.

Figure 1 Newly installed H2 hydrological monitoring station.  The original station was removed to facilitate instream remediation
Figure 2  Lynx observed near Hazeltine

MPMC WATER TREATMENT PLANT UPDATE

In Quarter 3, the total treated water discharged to Quesnel Lake was ~1,882,460 mᵌ with an average discharge rate of ~0.243 mᵌ/second and an average of ~20,462 mᵌ/day.

The plant operated continuously for most of Quarter 3.  Water quality samples were collected weekly at the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) influent (E19) and effluent (HAD-3) sites throughout the quarter.

HAZELTINE AND EDNEY CREEK REMEDIATION

Instream construction in Hazeltine and Edney Creeks was completed and finished in Q3 2021.  The work marks an important milestone for the remediation project, all instream work is now completed.  The work was completed in time for the annual salmon migration in the region and salmon did arrive in Hazeltine Creek in mid-September.  A total of 206 sockeye salmon were observed on September 22 and the fish appeared to be using the habitat as intended.  The presence of sockeye salmon and various other fish species is indicating that the remedial work is restoring ecological function.  This is not only evident in the aquatic environments but also evident across the terrestrial landscape where plant communities are developing and abundant wildlife is observed.  It is expected that as both the aquatic and the terrestrial ecosystems mature, further ecological functions will emerge and the site will host an even broader array of organisms.

There is still outstanding terrestrial remediation work to be done.  Planting will resume next spring to address the disturbances created by the 2020/21 construction.  Earthworks are planned for several small areas within the Hazeltine Creek corridor and the Polley Lake shoreline.  Future planned work will involve recontouring existing topographical features, planting, and monitoring.

Figure 3  Sockeye salmon in Hazeltine Creek above the Ditch Road bridge

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Remediation

Hazeltine Creek Remediation Wildlife Monitoring Plan Update

A Wildlife Monitoring Plan has been implemented in the Hazeltine Creek corridor, utilizing wildlife cameras to build an inventory of animals that are using the corridor to support local wildlife studies.

Environmental monitoring programs and closure research projects at Mount Polley mine site have successfully reached several milestones since inception in 2014. Post-remediation monitoring in lower Hazeltine Creek and Edney Creek have reported significant improvement in water quality to promote increased aquatic habitation. All areas that were disturbed by the 2020 construction near Hazeltine and Edney Creek were seeded with a variety of local, non-invasive vegetation comprised of Mountain Brome, Native Red Fescue, Rocky Mountain Fescue, Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Blue Wildrye, Fireweed, and Big Leaf Lupine. This selective plant growth not only helps re-introduce wildlife usage in the area but, creates a suitable habitat for a diverse range of wildlife activities from nesting birds to foraging and predator/prey interactions. To better understand the impacts and implications of these programs and remediation efforts on Mount Polley as well as potentially other mine sites, specialized wildlife cameras have been installed for mammal species monitoring. As a result, an inventory of identified species including numerous bird species and even some large insects within the Hazeltine Creek corridor by remote cameras have captured a library collection of raw footage.

The gallery below offers a preview to the library of photos retrieved by on-site staff.

In addition to creating a mammal inventory, the study was also intended to identify whether wildlife usage was negatively impacted following the dam incident. However, review of the current inventory suggests that usage was not impaired. On the ground, staff are also seeing a prevalence of locally known mammal species such as bears, mule deer, and moose.

Although it is a little too early to confirm any trends, photos of wolverine, which are quite uncommon in the area, also suggests that the remediation efforts have potentially created an environment that is becoming well received by a more diverse group of terrestrial lifeforms and continues to be home to the local ecosystem entirety.

The team will continue to conduct non-intrusive, wildlife research monitoring to better understand local animal activity and behaviour. Everyone on site shares their wildlife observations with staff, which are recorded in a wildlife tracking table. Mount Polley’s team are committed to completing the in-stream work this year as well as the remaining terrestrial remediation within the next two years. Updates on the remediation work at Mount Polley mine are available in the quarterly Community Update newsletters on mountpolley.com.

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Remediation

Over 100 sockeye salmon adults return to spawn in Hazeltine Creek

After seven years of remediation work in Hazeltine Creek in response to the 2014 tailings dam breach, the salmon have returned to the creek to spawn.  In stream work was completed in late August this year, just in time for the sockeye migration in the region.

In the early stages of the Mount Polley remediation effort, 40 thousand truckloads of rock were used to build a foundation channel along Hazeltine Creek from Polley Lake to Quesnel Lake. Next, section by section, the remediation team modified the initial channel and added sinuosity and habitat features to provide instream cover for fish, enhancing the habitat value. These features included spawning platforms, pools, riffles, rock boulder clusters, root wads, and logs.

The biological design for habitat features was developed collaboratively with Mount Polley’s technical experts, Williams Lake First Nation, Xatśūll First Nation, and at the regulatory level, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.  Collectively the group is referred to as the “Habitat Remediation Working Group.”

Over the past few weeks over 100 sockeye salmon adults have returned to Hazeltine Creek to spawn. “The focus of the Hazeltine Creek remediation effort at Mount Polley has been to repair and rehabilitate Hazeltine Creek so that it becomes a self-sustaining, productive fish habitat.” said Brian Kynoch, President of Imperial Metals. 

Trout have been using portions of the rehabilitated creek to spawn since 2017, and now another major milestone has been achieved with the return of sockeye salmon to the creek. The presence of the sockeye salmon and various other fish species signals that the remedial work has begun to restore ecological function.  This is not only evident in the aquatic environment but also evident across the terrestrial landscape where plant communities are developing, and abundant wildlife is observed.  It is expected that as both the aquatic and the terrestrial ecosystems mature, further ecological function will emerge, and the site will host an even broader array of organisms.

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Remediation

Fish populations thriving at Mount Polley

Habitat modelling reveals four times more juvenile fish are expected in Hazeltine Creek post-remediation efforts

Mount Polley Mining Corporation is pleased to report that fish populations are thriving at Mount Polley.  Further, the current habitat of upper Hazeltine Creek is over 1.5 times more likely to spawn fish than the pre-breach habitat.  A recent report prepared by Golder, Mount Polley’s Environmental Consultant, reveals that the fish population in Hazeltine Creek is increasing as a result of the remediation efforts made by the Mount Polley Habitat Remediation Working Group* since 2014.  Computer modelling of the fish population projects that there could be up to four times more juvenile trout in Hazeltine Creek in 2031 than in 2014.

“By May 2015 the water in Hazeltine Creek was running clear, and the bugs – invertebrates that provide food for fish – were starting to grow in the creek, so it was decided that the installation of new fish habitat could begin and this work started in 2016,” stated Lee Nikl, Principal and Senior Environmental Scientist – Mine Water and Environment Group at Golder.  “By late 2017, fish were let back into the creek.”

We expect there to be almost twice as many juvenile trout in Hazeltine Creek by 2022.  The new report uncovers that this is an outcome of the remediated habitat features in the creek, as well as the unobstructed conditions for upstream passage of fish, which are expected to persist in the long term.  The Habitat Remediation Working Group has been guiding and overseeing habitat remediation since 2014 and “the design objectives and the designs themselves are the outcome of collaborative design with the Habitat Remediation Working Group”, said Nikl.  “The focus of the remediation effort at Mount Polley has been to repair and rehabilitate Hazeltine Creek so that it becomes a self-sustaining, productive fish habitat.” said Brian Kynoch, President of Imperial Metals.

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Mining facts

Mount Polley already meets Metal and Diamond Mining Regulations

Mount Polley Mining Corporation was future ready when the federal government published new regulations amending the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) earlier this week. 

The federal regulations, now known as the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER) were amended in 2018 and contain several tough new provisions that came into effect on June 1st, 2021.

For several years Mount Polley has proactively been monitoring its treated water discharge for the substances which are controlled in the new regulations and has also been testing for toxicity as is now required by the MDMER. 

Toxicity testing using the water flea “Daphnia magna” has demonstrated that Mount Polley’s treated water discharge has been consistently non-toxic to this crustacean.

Daphnia magna, a commonly occurring organism in British Columbia and one that is a food source for certain fish, is particularly sensitive to dissolved copper. Dissolved copper is the “bioavailable” form of copper and Mount Polley is pleased that its water management strategy has successfully mitigated these effects.

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History

The Cultural History of Copper

Copper has played an important role in the development of human civilization. Copper was discovered in several sites, and has notable industrial origins in Cyprus whose name comes from those that traded the metal as a commodity. The ancients represented copper by the symbolic Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “for life,” marking the durability of copper.

It isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact moment of the appearance of the first copper objects. Copper hunting tools and weapons likely appeared around 5000 BC in Mesopotamia. At the time, the metal existed exclusively in nature in its native state.

Related reading

The History of Copper

Copper and Civilization

For many civilizations, copper has been a source of inspiration for artists and builders. Soon after its discovery, copper was used in the minting of coins and forging swords. In many countries, copper is still regarded as a precious metal because of its unique properties.

The wealth that copper produces leads to positive change in various ways – most notably in jobs for local communities. Historically, it developed new towns, villages, and settlements. In the creation of jobs, copper attracts new residents and employees.

The Copper Age first started around 5000 B.C. Metal casting in the Near East was a common practice in ancient times. In ancient Egypt, copper statues were made before the copper was available to Europeans. During this period, copper statues enjoyed a high artistic status. Copper jewelry and copper sculptures began to be made in Africa around the 9th century, while Native Americans and First Nations discovered the function and beauty of copper.

China

Until the end of the Shang Dynasty around 1050 BC, China used the mold casting as the sole copper manufacturing method. In this process, an object is reproduced on a model, which is then cast in clay. Once the model has been released from the mold, the pieces are reassembled, but the mold becomes a casting mold after firing. The Jiangnan Copper House stands tall today, housing ancient copper sculptures, ornaments, and tools.

Bronze axe from the Shang Dynasty inlaid with turquoise. c.14th-11 century B.C. – Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University

Middle East

Modern-day Jordan was the site of ancient mines and smelting sites. These mines may have belonged to King Solomon but while most historians mark this industrial activity after his reign, carbon dating in the last few years has strengthened the case for Solomon’s copper extraction and processing of copper at these sites. This claim is also backed up by biblical scripture which describes Solomon’s reign around 1000 B.C., a time which coincides with dating of ancient copper processing sites. The Bible describes “brass” and “bronze” opulence in Solomon’s court, alloys of copper, let alone copper being understood by scholars as fundamental to King Solomon’s wealth

King Solomon and the Iron Worker by Christian Schussele, 1863 depicts a king’s wealth brass, bronze, and copper

Ancient Greece

In the Mycenaean period, from around 1600 BC to around 1000 BC, Greece was prosperous, and copper was often used for everyday use and works of art.

By the 6th century AD, the lost wax casting technique had gained momentum. The copper sculptures that were produced were often adorned with glass, silver, and copper for realistic features.

It is believed that the statues were mass-produced and not composed of individual pieces by the artist. Some statues from this time that sunk in shipwrecks were recently found. It appears that separately cast torsos could have been attached to already manufactured limbs.

Boxer at Rest by Apollonius of Athens – c.330 to 50 B.C.

Ancient Rome

Several copper statues from various countries were sent to Rome, where they were melted down to recover the copper and make it into Roman weapons or sculptures. In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder wrote about the reuse of copper by Rome in the foundries of Brindisi. Sculptures from a copper age were discovered in 1992 attached to a wreck located in the Mediterranean Sea near Brindisi. The sculptures came from Eastern Mediterranean territories occupied by the Roman Empire between the 4th and 3rd centuries AD.

West Africa

Copper and bronze sculptures, such as breastplates, vases, crowns, and swords, have been discovered from the Igbo-Ukwu civilization. This civilization was one of the first in West Africa to make copper sculptures using the lost wax technique. Extensive work was done by assembling several pieces cast in copper.

Igbo-Ukwu bronze ceremonial staff head. c.9th century

Renaissance Italy

Copper started to appear in sculptures around the 1500s when Florence thrived as the center of the copper craft. The city eventually became famous for its bronze statue, including those by Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti. These are among the most iconic figures of the Renaissance. Sculptors such as Michelangelo, among others, drew inspiration from Donatello.

David by Donatello in bronze – c.1450

The Americas

Mexico

In the mid-15th century, the Purepecha peoples from central Mexico began producing hammered copper sculptures. In 1804 the Spanish established foundries in Mexico, which continue today to produce copper sculptures.

They used the heating and hammering technique to make tools and ornaments. In the process, copper is heated till it can be hammered several times. The patterns and soot are added to the part using special hammers. What is left becomes a red patina.

The Museo Nacional del Cobre (National Copper Museum) – Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico

Northwest

Indigenous peoples of the region are known to have used copper for payment, and symbolic significance and was generally the property of chieftains but were connected to Shamans. During the Potlatch, a ceremonial feast among indigenous peoples to display wealth and establish status and social prestige, copper was sometimes used in place of slaves among historic indigenous peoples. Copper would be destroyed as part of the ceremony to display the wealth of chieftains. As an indicator of value, copper was an important element in the succession ceremonies for these leaders. Rival chiefs would symbolically break their copper in exchange with other chiefs until one’s copper was fully broken into pieces, symbolizing defeat. In the tradition of indigenous peoples, copper was also important in funerals and weddings.

The Old Copper Complex refers to the ancient copper culture of Native Americans-the original inhabitants of the Great Lakes region. This culture reportedly spans many thousand years in an area of thousands and thousands of square miles.

Today tangible evidence suggests these communities used copper to produce countless tools in the Middle Archaic period. They got their copper from natural ores that ran hundreds of miles along the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Their copper was the purest, over 95%. Researchers conclude that large amounts of this pure copper must have been used for ornaments and weapons by the Native Americans from the extent of mining. Significant artifacts, including axes and adzes, knives, and harpoons, have been found.

Copper knife, apud, spearpoints, and awls. c.3000-1000 B.C.

Religious Significance of Copper

For more than 5000 years, copper has been linked to the goddess of love (Aphrodite). Copper was also by the Egyptians used to purify water and keep wounds clean. Shamans believe that copper magnifies energy transfer, meaning that the wearer can absorb healing provided by the minerals or crystals.

Some of the copper craftwork found in Egyptian tombs remains today, including copper plumbing pipe, even though it is thousands of years old. Burying everything that a person would need in the next world in the tombs, ancient Egyptians used bronze to make models of statues, bakehouses, tanneries, breweries, and boats.

Much of the history, processing, and use of copper that we know today only survived because of representation in Christian monastic and Islamic cultural writings. Three famous writers Peter Theophilus in the 11th century, Georgius Agricola in the 16th century, and Johannes Mathesius in the 17th century, describe in detail the metal producing techniques of their times.

This literature has influenced much of modern mining uses of copper in society.

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Research

Imperial Metals congratulates recipients of the 2021 Barlow Medal for Best Geological Paper

Imperial Metals congratulates authors Chris Rees, Greg Gillstrom, and K. Brock Riedell on being the 2021 recipient of the Barlow Medal for Best Geological Paper 

Imperial Metals congratulates authors Chris Rees, Greg Gillstrom, and consultant K. Brock Riedell for being named the 2021 recipient of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s (CIM) Barlow Medal for Best Geological paper award. The CIM Awards honour industry’s “finest for their outstanding contributions in various fields. Their achievements and dedication are what make Canada’s global mineral industry a force to be reckoned with.” 

The Barlow Medal is named after Alfred Ernest Barlow who joined the Geological Survey of Canada in 1883, where he would help to define some of Canada’s most prolific mining regions. The Barlow Medal annually awards a gold medal to those who publish the best paper on economic geology. 

“On behalf of Imperial Metals and Mount Polley Mining Corporation, we congratulate Chris Rees, Greg Gillstrom and K. Brock Ridell for being chosen as the 2021 recipient of the CIM Barlow Medal for Best Geological paper award,” says Brian Kynoch, President of Imperial Metals. “Their work has been instrumental in expanding the mineral potential at Mount Polley.” 

The geological paper is a description of the geology, alteration and mineralization of the Mount Polley deposit, and summarizes exploration and mining history up to the recent mine suspension in May, 2019. Tables of historical copper, gold, and silver production, and reserves and resources are also included. The paper is a contribution to CIM Special Volume 57 (2020) which updates the state of knowledge on major porphyry copper deposits in British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska. Papers on other Imperial projects, Red Chris and Huckleberry, are also contained in the volume. 

About Imperial 

Imperial is a Vancouver based exploration, mine development and operating company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, owns a 30% interest in the Red Chris mine, and a 100% interest in both the Mount Polley and Huckleberry copper mines in British Columbia. Imperial also holds a 45.3% interest in the Ruddock Creek lead/zinc property. 

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Mining facts

Magnetite and Magnetite Mining in Canada

Magnetite (also magnet iron, magnet iron stone, iron oxide, or iron (II, III) oxide) is the most stable iron oxide with high resistance to acids and alkalis. It has a cubic crystal system and a chemical molecular formula Fe3O4. One of the iron ions is divalent. The other two are trivalent, so Magnetite is also referred to as iron (II, III) oxide. It has a ‘Mohs’ hardness of 5.5 to 6.5, a black color, a line color, and a matte metallic sheen.

Crystal structure of magnetite: oxygen (gray), divalent iron (green), trivalent iron (blue), iron ion in octahedron gap (light blue octahedron), iron ion in tetrahedron gap (gray tetrahedron) – Wikimedia commons

History of magnetite mining

Magnetite is one of the most powerful magnetic minerals. When the temperature falls below 578°C, the magnetization is mostly aligned in the earth’s magnetic field direction. A remnant magnetic polarization of the order of magnitude 500 nT results. In this way, magnetite crystals can preserve the direction of the earth’s magnetic field at the time of their formation.

The investigation of the direction of magnetization of lava rock (basalt) led geologists to observe that in the distant past, the magnetic polarity of the earth must have reversed from time to time. Due to its excellent magnetic properties, Magnetite is still used today in the construction of compasses. As a color pigment, it bears the name iron oxide black.

The name magnet emerged from the Latin name form magnetem (from nominative magnes – magnet). The medieval mineral name Magneteisenstein and the name Magnetit were introduced by Wilhelm Haidinger in 1845.

According to Greek legend, the shepherd Magnes is said to have been the first to find a natural stone with magnetic properties. The shepherd found the stone on Mount Ida when his shoe-heel stuck to the ground.

Magnetite is magnetic!

Another possible origin of the name refers to the Greek landscape Magnesia. Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) used the term “magnetic stone” in his well-known work De Re Metallica in 1550 as an ingredient for glass production.

The reference to the stone magnes, named after a shepherd of the same name, can be found in works by the Roman writer Pliny, the Elder. Pliny distinguished two types of magnes; a “male” and a “female,” of which only the male had the power to attract iron and thus corresponded to the actual Magnetite. “Female” magnesite was probably manganese ore, similar to the “male” in appearance.

Illustration of Magnes the shepherd

The mineral might have also been named after Magnesia, a landscape in Thessaly or the city of Magnesia. It is also possible that the name Magnetite comes from other Greek or Asia Minor places of the same name, in which iron ore chunks with magnetic properties were found over 2500 years ago.

Occurrence

Magnetite occurs in solid or granular form and also as crystals. The latter are often octahedral in shape, so each has eight triangular boundary surfaces. It is a ubiquitous mineral, but it is rarely the main component of an iron rock.

Magnetite
Magnetite

Magnetite is found in numerous igneous rocks such as basalt, diabase, and gabbro in metamorphic rocks. Its hardness means that Magnetite remains intact as sand in river sediments despite weathering processes.

Most of the Canadian Magnetite comes from the Labrador Trough region, on the border between Newfoundland and Quebec and Labrador. Vast deposits of Magnetite can be found in Nunavut, Faraday Township, Hastings County, Ontario, and Outaouais, Québec, Canada. Magnetite deposits are mined in British Columbia at Mount Polley.

Magnetite Uses

Dense Media Separation

Magnetite can be used in industry as a giant magnet. This has applications for sorting valuable materials from others in order to extract value. Those that panned for gold used pans, water, and agitation to remove dirt and debris from valuable nuggets of the valuable ore. Recyclers use magnetite in huge magets to sort valuable scrap metal from less valuable material. Magnetite mining helps the world extract value in an efficient way, whether from raw material or to repurpose discarded material in a green and environmentally friendly manner.

Dense Media Separation has its origins in cleaning coal. Finer coal material is separated from impurities making the energy derived from coal mining cleaner and more efficient.

Dense Media Separation is used in recycling industries to sort scrap metal. This is useful to give valuable material new life in everyday products from smartphones to electric vehicles. Magnetite makes recycling much more efficient, reducing the market price for recycled metals, allowing it to compete with newly mined metals in manufacturing.

Scrap metal recycling

Potash mining is a significant industry in Canada, particularly in the province of Saskatchewan. Potash is primarily used in fertilizer to more cheaply and efficiently feed a hungry world. Magetite, through the process of dense media separation, is used to purify extracted potash. Potash is a mixture of potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl). Magnetite is used in dense media separation in the potash extraction to remove NaCl from solution, leaving the valuable KCl behind.

Potash mining

Electrical industry

Along with hematite, Magnetite is one of the essential iron ore. At 72 %, iron has the highest content of this metal. The term iron oxide black means finely ground Magnetite.

Magnetite plays an essential role in the electrical industry. The occurrence of magnetic ores in rocks such as Magnetite or ulvite enables geological studies to be carried out on the earth’s magnetic field orientation.

Due to the 100 % spin polarization of the charge carriers predicted by theory, Magnetite is also traded as a hot candidate for spin valves in spin electronics.

As a building material

Magnetite is used in the construction industry as a naturally granular aggregate with a high bulk density (4.65 to 4.80 kg/dm 3 ) for heavy concrete and structural radiation protection. Thanks to the heavy mineral, the building material can help to attain a solid concrete density of more than 3.2 t/m3; and is helpful in the construction of hospital radiology units. 

Radiation protection concrete achieves a shielding function through its mass, but an aggregate with radiation-absorbing properties such as Magnetite increases the protective effect. 

Magnetite in jewelry

Classic jewelry clasps are often extremely filigree and, therefore, difficult to close. Magnetic jewelry clasps provide a remedy; they enable necklaces and bracelets to be easily closed. The strong magnets ensure a firm hold. To open the chain or strap, wearers simply have to slide two locking parts sideways.

Wearing jewelry is helped by magentic clasps

Heat storage

Industries use natural iron oxide minerals because they can keep the heat very efficiently. They use Magnetite in heat blocks in night storage heaters. Magnetite facilitates more extensive storage of thermal heat much more sustainably compared to other materials.

Magnetite is used in foundry metal protection

The mineral helps to prevent surface defects in metal fixtures in foundries. Natural mineral magnetite where it crashed into a pure, dry, and fine powder that’s used to protected casted metals.

Magnetic therapeutic beliefs in ancient times

Magnetism has been used traditional therapies for thousands of years, though modern science disputes therapeutic effect in placebo trials. The Greeks used magnetism in ancient treatments in 5th century BC. In China, magnets have been integrated into traditional therapy for over 2000 years, magnetism was also in traditional therapeutics in India and ancient Egypt to heal broken bones and other ailments.

Hippocrates described their healing power in the same way as the legendary doctor Paracelsus, who recommended treatments with magnets. Even during this time, women and men wore jewelry made from magnetic ores.

In ancient times magnetite mining became a major economic activity in the Thessalian city of Magnesia. Today, like the ancient Greeks, Canada has a reputation as a leading mining nation with the minerals sector as a core part of the economy. Magnetite mining supports jobs and increases economic growth in provinces and territories where it is mined along with broader benefits to Canada’s national economic output.

Categories
Community Exploration Remediation

A letter from the Mount Polley Team

Happy Holidays – we hope that everyone enjoyed a joyous holiday season and wish you all the best for 2021.

A Covid-19 update – Mount Polley employees continue to take additional precautions to minimize the risks of COVID19 transmission and illness as recommended by the Provincial Health Officer. All personnel continued to report to work in Q4.

Employees and site visitors are required to sign off on a daily COVID-19 Questionnaire before entering the site and will be turned away if showing symptoms of illness.

Mount Polley Mine: Care and Maintenance

Bulletins regarding the mines care and maintenance:

  • The environmental monitoring programs continue and are on track
  • Closure research projects continue as planned
  • Remediation of Hazeltine Creek continued at Lower Hazeltine, projected to be complete in 2021
  • Workforce consists of thirteen staff plus additional contractors
  • Site water management continues, including the near-continuous operation of the water treatment plant
  • Exploration Geological Mapping of new areas on mine site
  • CANMAG shipping magnetite

Environmental Monitoring Update

Environmental team: Matt O’Leary, Gabriel Holmes, Kala Ivens, Alicia Lalonde (DWB Consultant), Kim Sandy, Don Parsons (Corporate Office)

New Hire

Kimberly Sandy was hired on November 16 as the newest member of the Mount Polley environmental team.  She has been hired as an Environmental Technician and extensive on-site training is underway.

New ENV Permit

A new ENV permit 11678 was issued on December 31, 2020 that incorporates conditions from a previous consent order because of ongoing appeals of conditions within the permit as issued on February 1, 2020.

Quarter 4 routine monitoring activities completed:

  • Weekly WTP water quality sampling including monthly/quarterly toxicity sampling
  • Monthly water quality sampling at Hazeltine Creek 
  • Monthly & Quarterly water quality sampling of surface & mine affected waters including groundwater, mine seepage
  • Hydrological monitoring
  • Polley Lake, Bootjack Lake, & Quesnel Lake water quality sampling 
  • All critical ditches, sumps, ponds, and pipeline inspections 
  • Monthly/quarterly Waste Inspections
  • Continued investigation of unauthorized discharges and exceedances
  • Reporting—monthly, quarterly, investigations
  • Monitoring planning as per the Comprehensive Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and ENV Permit 11678

Specialized Environmentally Related Work

During the course of the year, we enlist the help of numerous environmental consulting companies to complete some of the specialized components of the environmental monitoring done at Mount Polley Mine.  Examples include bird song surveys or benthic and invertebrate studies in the remediated areas of Hazeltine Creek.  Most of our consultants completing specialized environmental work have wrapped up their field seasons and are processing data and interpreting their field observations in preparation for delivering their reports.  Some of these reports satisfy CEMP requirements and some are stand alone studies.  The results of this work can be found in the upcoming Mount Polley Mine Annual Environmental Report.  Some of the companies that we engage with include Golder Associates Ltd, Minnow Environmental Inc., DWB Consulting Services Ltd., Ensero Solutions, and Watersmith.

Environmental monitoring is conducted in accordance with the Environmental Management Act (EMA) Permit 11678 and the approved Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan (CEMP) requirements.

Snow corer for evaluating snowpack.

MPMC Water Treatment Plant (WTP) Update

In Quarter 4, the total treated water discharged to Quesnel Lake was ~1,592,581 mᵌ with an average discharge rate of ~0.2mᵌ/second.

The plant operated continuously for most of Quarter 4.  Water quality samples were collected weekly at the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) at the influent (E19) and effluent (HAD-3) sites throughout the quarter.  To further optimize the plant operations the WTP operators have been utilizing a Hanna Multiparameter Photometer to assess influent and effluent copper concentrations to help guide daily plant operations.  We are developing a data set comparing the field readings to the lab results to verify the reliability of the instrument. 

Water Treatment Plant Laboratory

Permit Exceedance

On November 11, 2020, a permit exceedance for elevated copper was observed at the WTP.  Through the course of the resulting investigation, the plant was shut down for four days, additional samples were collected (in recirculation mode), a site contact water review was completed, the source of copper was identified, plant operations and site conditions were assessed key findings were identified and operational recommendations were compiled. The plant resumed normal operation on November 27, 2020.

Bypass Request

On October 26, 2020, MPMC requested a bypass of the authorized works (the WTP) to discharge mine site contact water that is being stored in the Springer Pit without active treatment.  Through the course of the last year, the water quality in the pit has improved greatly and meets the end of pipe permit limits as indicated by the sample results taken during on-site monitoring.  This is the result of the water clarifying and passive in-situ treatment occurring in the pit.  The bypass request also included water from the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) and the Cariboo Pit provided that they meet the end of pipe permit limits.  Significant water quality fluctuations are not expected because of the single-source nature of the bypass.  Monitoring is planned to increase in the Springer Pit to provide early warning of water quality changes and will remain at the same frequency at the end of the pipe.

Another driver for this request is to aid MPMC in eliminating surplus water currently being stored on site.  The quantity of water stored on-site currently exceeds “Best Practices” as advised by the Tailings Storage Facility Engineer of Record.  A bypass authorization will enable MPMC to increase discharge volumes while still meeting permit limits and BC Water Quality Guidelines. This will also limit year-over-year accumulation of stored water on site.  A similar bypass authorization request was submitted by MPMC in 2016 and approved by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment (MoE) on March 11, 2016.

Water Treatment Plant and Discharge Pipeline to Quesnel Lake

MPMC Water Treatment Plant (WTP) Update-Graph

Hazeltine/Edney Creek Remediation 

Remediation work was limited in Q4 to ground cover seeding and seed collection efforts.  All areas that were disturbed by the 2020 construction near Hazeltine and Edney Creek were seeded.  Additional Sitka Alder and Cattail seeds were collected for distribution.  The native ground cover seed blend that is used in the remediation is comprised of Mountain Brome, Native Red Fescue, Rocky Mountain Fescue, Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Blue Wildrye, Fireweed, and Big Leaf Lupine.

Lower Edney Creek and Secondary High Flow Channel
Newly Constructed Edney Creek Outfall to Quesnel Lake
Hazeltine Creek Reach 3
Ice Forming in Lower Edney Creek

Exploration Update

In late 2019, a comprehensive exploration program consisting of a geochemical MMI-soil sample survey and a geophysical 3D-IP survey was carried out over the Frypan/Morehead area located west and north of the Mount Polley mine. The target area is roughly 3 by 3 kilometers in size, largely till covered and shows a similar magnetic response to that obtained over the Mount Polley mine host rock of monzonite and hydrothermally altered monzonite breccia pipes. 

In June 2020, an additional 3D-IP survey was conducted over the Mount Polley mine site to identify the geophysical response of the known mineralization. 

Interpretation of the new geophysical data sets led to numerous high-priority targets both in the Frypan/Morehead area and on the mine site. 

A drill program was planned to test the new high-priority targets on and off the mine site and to expand zones of known mineralization on the mine site. The first phase of drilling was carried out at the end of 2020. 

Due to prolonged delays with assay labs, the program is waiting for results before drillings resume. 

MPMC EVENTS

Quarter 4, 2020

October 7:

Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call

Upcoming

February 3, 2020

Public Liaison Committee (PLC) Meeting via conference call

Resources

imperialmetals.com

BC Mine Information Page: https://mines.nrs.gov.bc.ca/

BC Ministry of Environment Natural Resource and Enforcement Database: https://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/ocers/searchApproved.do?submitType=menu

If you have any questions regarding the Community Update, please email Gabriel Holmes at gabriel.holmes@mountpolley.com