HB Mines Tailings Facility
Closure and Remediation Project
- The HB Dam, located 6km south of Salmo, was initially constructed by Teck Cominco (Teck) to retain and store tailings from the nearby HB Mine, which Teck operated intermittently from 1955 to 1978.
- In 1998, the RDCK acquired the HB Mine Tailings Storage Facility and land adjacent to the Central (Salmo) Landfill to be used as attenuation and buffer area for the landfill. Decommissioning of the tailings dam took place between 2002 and 2005, and was partially funded by Teck.
- Since then, the RDCK has been engaged in regular monitoring, reporting and assessment of the Facility. This involves weekly inspections, bi-annual environmental monitoring, annual geotechnical reviews, annual reclamation reporting, annual updates to emergency and operations plans, and detailed dam safety reviews and Reclamation Plan updates every five years.
- In 2012, the earth dam of the tailings pond nearly collapsed after heavy rains. A collapse would have had disastrous impacts on the nearby highway, downstream properties and the Salmo River, with clean-up costs estimated at up to $84 million. The RDCK declared a State of Local Emergency for the area, and embarked on immediate repairs and intensive monitoring.
- In 2016, the Board approved moving forward with passive closure, as defined by the Canadian Dam Association, of the tailings Facility which involves construction works to stabilize the dam and remediate the tailings area.
- SRK Consulting Inc. completed the closure and remediation design in 2020, which formed the basis of a series of permit applications that would allow the closure works to proceed
- The project commenced on June 3, 2021 and was expected to be completed in September 2022.
- The Facility is now in the active care phase, anticipated to last 3 to 5 years, where increased monitoring and oversight is completed to assess the Dam's performance compared to projections in the design.
- Once adequate monitoring has shown that the Facility is geotechnically, geochemically and environmentally stable, the RDCK can apply to reduce monitoring frequencies which will reduce long-term costs.
2021-2022 Construction Activities
The RDCK took steps to move the Facility to passive closure by eliminating ponded water behind the dam, by increasing dam stability, and containing the tailings to prevent transport. Steps included:
- Developing a new spillway and eliminating the pond behind the dam.
- Covering the entire tailings area with 0.3-metre thick earthen cover.
- Creating lined surface water conveyance channels to direct water over the tailings area.
- Constructing a till beach upstream of the dam, and raising the dam’s filter layer.
- Expanding the toe berm at the bottom of the dam to improve seismic stability.
Note: Access to the Facility is restricted to protect health and safety. The public are not permitted to visit the Facility.
Cost and Taxation Impact
The Facility is operated as part of Service 187 Central Subregion Resource Recovery, and funded by taxpayers in the service area. Completing passive closure is the lowest cost option for long-term Facility management.
Based on the approved borrowing for the full project amount of $3,933,000 over a 20-year term, the annual cost for interest and principal on the loan is $243,184. The maximum possible taxation for the construction and remediation works is shown as a residential rate of $0.0467 per $1,000 of assessment.
For more information about the alternative approval process (AAP), visit the Alternative Approval Process for Local Government (on the Province of BC website).
- Glossary of Terms - Canadian Dam Association (CDA)
- Glossary of Terms - British Columbia Dam Safety Guidelines: Inspection & Maintenance of Dams (Section 1 - Definitions)
- HB Mine Tailings Facility Remediation and Closure Plan
For more information about the HB Tailings Storage Facility Closure and Remediation project, please contact:
Environmental Projects Lead
HB Tailings Storage Facility QP
Phone: (250) 352-1519
The content on this page was last updated February 28 2023 at 2:55 AM