Imperial Metals (TSX:III, Stock Forum) has jumped to respond to an incident which saw the estimated equivalent of 2,000 Olympic pools of mining waste discharge into the waterways of British Columbia's Cariboo region from the tailings pond at its Mount Polley mine located approximately 140 kilometres southeast of Quesnel in northern BC.
A water ban was enacted which affected about 300 people, but was estimated to grow since the advisory was expanded to include residents along the Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers.
According to the news release, the company stated that the tailings dam breach has been stabilized and it is currently working to mitigate the immediate effects of the discharge. The cause of the breach is still unknown and it was stated that the dam was operating within design specifications and gave no indication of an impending breach.
However, Brian Olding, an environmental consultant who had examined the tailings pond, countered that it was growing at an unsustainable rate as the company built walls higher and higher to hold back the contaminated water.
He then went on to say that the company was seeking to obtain a permit that would allow them to treat and release some of the water to keep the pond size in check.
As a result of the breach, Mount Polley mine has been put under care and maintenance and although the damaged area is considered to be relatively small compared to the size of the dam, it is unknown how long it will take to restore operations.
The company went on to note that it was working closely with provincial ministries, local agencies and emergency response officials, would provide updates as they became available.
It has been speculated that the company's Red Chris permits will be revoked as a result of the environmental mishap.
Imperial Metals was in the news recently when the Vancouver-based company reported its Q2 production results in the middle of July.
Shares plummeted 41.07% in morning trading to $9.90 per share.
Currently there are 74.9m outstanding shares with a market cap of $742.0 million.