When the earth-and-rock dam that held back millions of cubic metres of mine waste and effluent at Imperial Metal’s Mount Polley mine failed in 2014, it left the mining industry in B.C. and Canada shaken.
One of the largest dam failures in the world in the past 50 years, it sparked concern among the public, environmental groups and First Nations that aquatic life would be harmed, particularly salmon that use the Quesnel Lake system to spawn in the B.C. Interior. Studies on the effects of the spill are expected to last for years. In the aftermath of the spill — and heading into the May 9 election — the B.C. Liberals continue to be strong proponents of mining.
In their platform, the Liberals say they want to see eight new mines created by 2020, and point to new mines opened under their tenure and those under construction, including the $811-million Brucejack underground gold mine in northern B.C.
The NDP and Green party also say they support the mining sector, but are advocating for more on-the-ground oversight, with additional inspectors, to monitor mines.
In the riding of Cariboo North, where mining dates back to the Barkerville gold rush in the 1800s, the sector promises well-paying jobs and economic spinoffs just as the region is facing fallout from decreasing timber supply from the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
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