Review of Sullivan Mine Closure Plan
The boards of directors of Cominco Ltd. and Teck Corp. met in Kimberley, B.C., in early September to review the closure and reclamation plans of Cominco’s 100%-owned Sullivan zinc-lead-silver mine.
The mine has been operating since 1909, after ore was discovered in 1892. The mine and mill are still operating at 8,000 tonnes per day, but with its orebody nearing exhaustion, Sullivan is slated to close in two years. In the past 91 years, Sullivan has produced eight million tonnes of zinc and nine million tonnes of lead, with an average of 1,000 employees. It has also produced a prodigious amount of tailings and waste rock with the potential to make run-off water acidic and polluting.
In a recent report, Cominco vice-president environment and corporate affairs, Doug Horswill, states: “In order to leave a positive environmental legacy behind, Cominco has faced up to the task of reclaiming all of the tailings deposits and waste dumps in the area in order to bring them back to a level of productivity that will sustain wildlife and natural use for the long-term future. This has been based on research with special soil and rock covers that began 22 years ago.”
The company intends to spend in the order of $70 million to bring the Sullivan mine to an environmentally safe and protected status. The intention is to help Kimberley become a resort and retirement destination, emphasizing its golf and skiing facilities.
From their meeting at Kimberley, the boards have recognized the importance of doing as much as can be done to follow the principles of sustainable development in the development, operation and closure of their mining projects. The environmental, social and economic consequences for the population affected by any of their projects will be factored into all aspects of planning and operation.
Rabbit Lake Shutdown Extended
Cameco Corp. has extended the temporary shutdown of mining activities at its 100%-owned Rabbit Lake uranium operations, citing as the reason the continuing low spot market price for uranium. The company has re-evaluated the mining plan at the Rabbit Lake Eagle Point mine to improve efficiencies through changes to the mining method. In 2001, the company will seek regulatory approval to reopen the Rabbit Lake mine based on the revised mining plan for the remaining 20 million pounds of reserves at Eagle Point.
The Rabbit Lake mill will continue to operate on existing stockpiles until they are depleted, about the end of the first quarter of 2001. The mill will then be placed on standby. Cameco anticipates restarting the mill in the first quarter of 2002, shortly after mining activity resumes.
This decision follows Cameco’s previous decision to suspend mining activities at Rabbit Lake from 1999 to 2001, and to reduce annual mill production at Rabbit Lake from 12 million to 7 million pounds U3O8 in that period.
During the shutdown, it is expected that 30-50 of the 150 Cameco employees at Rabbit Lake will be retained for care and maintenance and environmental activities at the site. The rest will be temporarily laid off with an anticipated recall date in early 2002.