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Investigation into tailings breach

The BC government has appointed a three-member panel to conduct an independent investigation of a massive tailings pond breach at a gold and copper mine.

The government is also ordering other mine companies to conduct safety inspections of their own tailings ponds by Dec. 1, and to have the inspections reviewed by outside engineering firms.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett says the independent inquiry will be paid for by Imperial Metals, owner of the Mount Polley mine where two weeks ago the dam failure sent millions of litres of waste water into a network of salmon-bearing lakes and streams near the town of Likely, in the province's central Interior.

Bennett says the panel geotechnical engineers and mining experts will explore the cause of the failure and make recommendations by the end of January 2015.

When the Mount Polley dam breached two weeks ago, Imperial Metals said there was no sign of trouble, however an environmental consultant's report warned the pond was growing at an unsustainable rate.

BC's Environment Ministry said over the weekend that initial tests on the slurry from the mine show the waste poses no risk to humans but may harm aquatic life.

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