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Mining and Human Rights in BC: Mt Polley disaster

    The Mt Polley gold and copper mine is owned by Canadian company Imperial Metals and located near the community of Likely in British Columbia's Cariboo region. On August 4th, 2014, the mine's tailings dam breached, spilling 24 million cubic metres of toxic mine waste into local waterways and ultimately into the pristine Quesnel Lake. The full extent of impacts and damages caused by this major breach are still being assessed nearly three years later.

    Amnesty International travelled to the region to research the human rights impact of the breach. We met with First Nations, local residents and businesses, government officials, scientists, and the union that represents the mine's workers. Neither Imperial Metals or Mount Polley Mining Corporation have responded to our requests for a meeting.

    Amnesty is concerned that people's human rights may have been violated by the Mt Polley spill and that they continue to suffer harms. 




    New Report: 

    On May 25, 2017, Amnesty International Canada published the results of its investigation into human rights harms caused by the disasterous 2014 Mount Polley tailings pond breach. Our report documents impacts on the rights of Indigenous peoples to hunt, fish, pick medicines and berries, and engage in cultural practices within their traditional territories. It outlines concerns raised by community groups regarding access to meaningful information, water testing and monitoring, and role of the Province in ensuring compliance with and enforcement of BC's mining regulations. And it makes recommendations to the Province to restore public confidence, carry out reforms of BC's mining regulations in order to bring them in line with Canada's international human rights obligations, and to ensure robust monitoring of the medium and long-term impacts of the Mount Polley disaster on the environment and peoples' health. 

    Take Action: 

    Amnesty International is calling on the Province to hold a public inquiry into BC's mining regulation. Will you join us? 

    Urge the Premier of British Columbia to call a Public Inquiry into BC's mining regulations!

    More ways you can take action here!



    Amnesty International invites UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights to meet with rights-holders regarding Mount Polley disaster

    On May 28th, during its official country visit to Canada, the UNWG met with people directly affected by the Mount Polley mine disaster. Corporate accountability experts Surya Deva and Anita Ramasastry heard testimony from Chiefs, leaders and community members of the Secwepemc, St'at'imc, Tsilqot'in, and Dakelh Nations and from residents belonging to community organisations such as the Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake and the Quesnel River Watershed Alliance. One June 1, the UNWG issued a Statement to the Government of Canada regarding the state of corporate accountability in the country. It urged Canada to take a 'tougher stance' on The WG will issue its official report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018. 

    Read the reflections shared by the Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake on giving testimony to the UNWG.  

    Article in the Williams Lake Tribune on the UNWG visit by Greg Sabatino



    A number of lawsuits were launched in 2016 seeking a legal remedy for harms alleged to have occurred as a result of the Mount Polley mine disaster. Read a summary of the lawsuits, case by case, by Amnesty International Canada's Business and Human Rights Co-group volunteer and legal expert, Olivia Howard. 


    Read more.....

    Legal news: On March 27, the Federal Crown successfully stayed charges brought forward by Canadian NGO MiningWatch Canada against the Province of British Columbia and Mount Polley Mining Corporation for violations of the Fisheries Act. The Federal Crown did not indicate if or when it would lay charges for the biggest mining spill in Canada’s history. News Release: Over 25,000 Canadians call for justice for those harmed by the Mount Polley mining spill. Nearly three years on, no one has been held accountable. SumOfUs petition. Find our sample tweets here

    Call for Public Inquiry Launched: Today, the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre and Fair Mining Collaborative launched a formal request for the province to establish a Judicial Commission of Public Inquiry into BC’s mining regulations. The Centre's report, Fixing Systemic Failures in BC's Mining Regulation: the Urgent Need for A Judicial Inquiry, outlines the dysfunction of BC's mining regulatory system and need for reform. 

    Announcement: Province announces changes to BC's mining regulations and oversight: Read the government press release and an article by Vancouver Sun reporter Gordon Hoestra.

    Blog: A Water Defender working to protect the lake she loves shares her thoughts on Quesnel Lake in the winter

    News release: Private prosecution filed against BC Government and Mt Polley: press release

    Amnesty op-ed in the Tyee: Where's the Will to Protect British Columbians' Rights After Resource Disasters? 

    Second anniversary of Mt Polley spill: Canadians Remember

    First anniversary of Mt Polley spill: One year anniversary of Mt Polley

    2015 Research Mission

    July 23 Blog posting : Day 4 - Amnesty on the ground

    July 21 Blog posting : Day 1 - Amnesty on the ground 

    Recommended reading.....


    Indigenous organizations:

    Non-governmental organizations: 


    • Imperial Metals Mount Polley webpage