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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. 




    Take Action

    Over 25, 000 Canadians have signed the petition - will you?

    SumOfUs has launched a petition calling on the Prime Minister to hold Imperial Metals to account for the Mt Polley disaster. Please sign the petition and send tweets to the Prime Minister, and Ministers of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, and Justice. Find our sample tweets here


    Update: On March 27, the Federal Crown successfully stayed the 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 Crown argued the charges should be stayed because they believed there to be insufficient evidence from MiningWatch to warrant charges at this time and argued they must wait for the completion of an ongoing criminal investigation by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. 

    MiningWatch Canada said that the Crown should have let them present all of their evidence to Court before moving to stay the case.  They also questioned why allowing MiningWatch to present its evidence would imperil the ongoing investigation or the Crown's ability to proceed with its own charges later.

    The Federal Crown did not indicate if or when it would lay charges for the biggest mining spill in Canada’s history.

    Press 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. 

    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 about the Mt Polley disaster and BC's mining sector:


    Indigenous organizations:

    Non-governmental organizations: 


    • Imperial Metals Mount Polley webpage