HB Mines Tailings Facility

Closure and Remediation Project

Background

  • The HB Dam 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 of the tailings Facility, which involves stabilization of the dam and remediation of the tailings area.
  • SRK Consulting Inc. completed the closure and remediation design in 2020.
  • The project commenced on June 3, 2021 and is expected to be completed in September 2021.

Construction Activities

The RDCK is taking steps 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 include:

  • 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).

Other Resources

Contact

For more information about the HB Tailings Storage Facility Closure and Remediation project, please contact:

Alayne Hamilton
HB Tailings Storage Facility Technologist
Phone: (250) 352-1519
Email: AHamilton@rdck.bc.ca

The content on this page was last updated July 20 2021 at 3:58 PM