I have to admit that I didnâ€™t really know much about tailing ponds before the breach at Mount Polley made them front page news. But after a little online research, I can now say I have a fairly good understanding of the topic.
Among the many things I found out about tailing ponds is how they are rapidly reclaimed after they have served their purpose.
Not far from Williams lake, just outside Kamloops, is the worldâ€™s largest open pit copper mine operated by Highland Valley Copper. Its initial tailings pond was created through the construction of a 1,400-metre-high dam, with a total surface area of 26 hectares.
When the mine stopped putting tailings into this pond in June 1989, modest reclamation efforts were carried out with a mixture of plant species and native shrubs.
In 1991, just two years after the mine stopped putting tailings into the pond, 1,500 rainbow trout fry were introduced to the tailings pond. Success was almost immediate and more trout were introduced in subsequent years.
By 1996, some of these fish had grown to a length of 27 inches and weighed over ten pounds.
After 1996, the lakeâ€™s trout population increased dramatically with the construction of a spawning channel.
Today, what was once a tailing pond is a lake with a thriving aquatic ecosystem. Large birds such as bald and golden eagles are frequently seen taking advantage of fish in the spawning channel. About 15 species of waterfowl and 30 species of shorebirds also inhabit the lake.
Large animals such as black bear, moose, deer, and coyotes also use the shoreline of this newly emerged ecosystem.
The locals even hold an annual fishing derby on the lake.
After a little online research and fact-gathering, my faith has been restored.
Itâ€™s easy now for me to see that some special interest groups simply arenâ€™t presenting the whole picture. They only use information which makes mining seem bad.
Well, knowledge is power, and itâ€™s a great way to inoculate yourself from misinformation. The doomsday scenarios of these special interest groups simply donâ€™t hold water, when you take the time to know the truth.
Erik Nummela, Burnaby