Copper Mountain takes tailings management seriously and prioritizes safety, transparency, and accountability. Our tailings operations achieved a “AA” rating under TSM protocols, and we are confident in our long-term reclamation plan to return the site to its natural state.
Tailings are natural, finely ground rock or sand that remains after economic minerals have been removed.
At Copper Mountain, the ore body is a low sulfidation, carbonate-hosted copper deposit. This is important as the naturally high percentage of carbonate, compared to the naturally low presence of sulfur, results in the tailings from our mine being non-acidic. Acid-generating tailings is one of the most significant challenges associated with tailings management and we are fortunate that this is not a challenge we have to manage.
Once we have separated the economic minerals from the non-economic ground rock or sand, it is stored in our Tailings Management Facility (TMF) — which is designed, constructed, and operated in alignment with industry best practices. We have strong governance in place for the TMF with transparent accountability and reporting standards. Our sites are reviewed and checked regularly by a team of qualified professionals.
Klohn Crippen Berger, an internationally recognized company with extensive expertise in tailings management, is the Designer of Record for our TMF. The Engineer of Record, Andrew Witte, P.Eng., regularly visits to oversee the design and operation. Review our annual TMF safety inspections and as-built reports completed by Klohn Crippen Berger as well as our TMF expansion report.
In addition to third-party reviews, Copper Mountain maintains a high level of internal accountability to ensure the TMF is designed and operated to the highest standards. Our onsite Tailings-Qualified Person, Michael Allen, P.Eng., is responsible for the facility’s operation. Gord Frost has overall responsibility for the Copper Mountain Mine, and Don Strickland, P.Eng., is the Tailings Accountable Executive for Copper Mountain.
To further ensure safe and transparent tailings management, we created an Independent Tailings Review Board (ITRB) consisting of senior independent professionals with a high level of technical and international experience. This board reviews the operation of our TMF with site visits and provides independent advice to the Copper Mountain Mine General Manager and to the Board of Directors, assuring our team and community that our TMF is led by industry best practices. Copper Mountain values transparency with its tailings management and our Terms of Reference for the ITRB are available here.
The latest ITRB review in late 2021 confirmed there were no tailings dam safety concerns. Through extensive monitoring and third-party reviews, we create long-term stability and mitigate potential risks to health, safety, the environment, infrastructure, and communities, including the threats of climate change and natural disasters.
The TMF design and operation are reviewed with community members of interest, including the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and Lower Similkameen Indian Band. Through regular communication, we provide community members with full transparency, up-to-date information, and a forum to ask questions. We want our community to be confident that our TMF is safe, stable, and will not create any environmental risk over the long term.
After the TMF is closed, it will naturally drain and will be re-vegetated as part of the reclamation process. Copper Mountain has real-life historical experience and success to provide confidence in this reclamation plan.
Towards Sustainable Mining
We are proud to have achieved a AA rating for our tailings management, which requires a robust third-party verified audit.
The Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM) Tailings Management Protocol was first released in 2004 and was most recently revised in 2019. The program measures tailings management performance through five defined indicators:
- Having a corporate tailings management policy and commitment to confirm that companies have established and effectively communicated a policy or commitment that expresses intention, commitments, and principles in relation to tailings management.
- Developing and implementing site-specific tailings management systems and emergency preparedness measures intended to confirm that companies have a tailings management system as well as tested emergency response and preparedness plans.
- Assigning accountability and responsibility for tailings management to confirm that accountability for tailings management is assigned to an Accountable Executive Officer and that an appropriate management structure and resources are in place to provide assurance to the company that tailings are managed responsibly.
- Conducting annual tailings management reviews to confirm that there is an annual review of tailings management that is reported to the Accountable Executive Officer to ensure corporate governance over tailings management and to ensure that the company is satisfied that the tailings management organizational structures and systems are effective and continue to meet the needs of the organization.
- Developing and implementing site-specific Operation, Maintenance, and Surveillance (OMS) manuals to confirm that the company has developed and implemented a tailings facility-specific OMS manual to facilitate implementation of the tailings management system.