Teck-Cominco Pursuing Garbage for Highland Valley Mine

Faced with the impending end of production at the Highland Valley Copper Mine in Logan Lake, BC, mine owner Teck-Cominco is proposing the transformation of the waste rock dumps into a “solid waste facility” to take garbage from the Greater Vancouver area.

Logan Lake is seeking any possible alternative economic activity to minimize the loss of revenue associated with mine closure. The mine’s closure will cause the following losses in the immediate region: 900 direct jobs and 1000 support service jobs and over $18 million in after-tax income. The Town itself will lose 34% of municipal revenues.

Teck-Cominco is faced with a daunting bill for mine reclamation after closure of Canada's largest open-pit mine. A memo from Wolf Nickel, the mine manager, dated August 26, 2004 states: “As a large disturbed “brownfield” site, HVC may be the best location in BC for a solid waste facility since over 6000 hectares of land are already disturbed, ground cover materials are readily available, a climate low in precipitation and the existing well-established environmental management and operation.”

Sperling and Hansen & Associates, the landfill consultant working with Logan Lake, has identified a 250 hectare area on top of an existing waste dump located between the Valley Pit and the H-H dam for the facility. The facility is said to have a capacity of more than 167 million tones.

Teck Cominco thinks the dump would offset a portion of their mine reclamation costs because construction of the leachate containment systems for the landfill would effectively cap the waste dumps.

On March 8-9, 2005, Logan Lake Municipal Council and Teck Cominco pitched the plan to the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Logan Lake is competing with Ashcroft, another desperate town in the region, for the dump.

A number of community members want public debate and a referendum on the plan.