Island Copper Mine

The Project

The Island Copper Mine was a 50,000 tonnes per day open-pit copper mine that opened in 1971 and closed in 1995. More than one billion tonnes of rock was removed from the open pit and the mine produced metal concentrates containing more than 1.3 million tonnes of copper, 31,000 tonnes of molybdenum, 31.7 tonnes of gold, 336 tonnes of silver and 27 tonnes of rhenium. By the time the mine closed in 1995, Island Copper was the third largest mine in Canada and the deepest excavated mine below sea level. Clem Pelletier, Rescan’s CEO, worked at Island Copper from 1971 until he started Rescan in 1981.

The Island Copper Mine site was one of the first mines in the world to use an innovative method of tailings placement on the seabed. The engineered submarine tailings placement system was the first of its kind, and proved to be effective and environmentally safe. Upon closure, the open pit was flooded to create a three-layer meromictic lake (a lake that has layers of water that do not intermix) for passive treatment of acidic, metal-contaminated drainage from on-land waste rock dumps. The discharge from the surface layer of Pit Lake has met all provincial permit criteria.

Our Role

Rescan supports BHP Billiton’s management of Island Copper by providing environmental management services for the operation of this closed mine. Rescan has been retained for over a decade to design closure plans and to monitor the site in post-closure. Island Copper was the recipient of the 2007 British Columbia Reclamation Award, and in 2008 BHP Billiton awarded Rescan its HSEC&S (Health, Safety, Environment, Community, & Sustainability) Award in the Environment category in recognition of Rescan’s technical contribution to the management of the Island Copper closed mine.

Client: BHP Billiton Base Metals
Location: Northern Vancouver Island, BC