Common Sense Canadian

Oops! Mount Polley owner may not have any environmental insurance

PostedAugust 12, 2014 by in Western Canada
Oops! Mount Polley owner may not have environmental insurance

Aerial image of recent Mount Polley mine tailings spill (Cariboo Regional District)

Read this Aug. 12 column by Peter Ewart on, raising concerns about Imperial Metals’ insurance for cleaning up its toxic tailing pond spill at Polley Lake, BC.

Does Imperial Metals have environmental insurance?

It is a statement that may come back to haunt them depending upon whether it is still valid. In 2002, in a “Plan of Arrangement” document regarding restructuring the company, Imperial Metals announced it would purchase insurance in amounts “to be adequate to protect itself against certain business and mining risks”. The document went on to say that, nonetheless, the company “may become subject to liability which it cannot insure against or which it may elect not to insure against due to premium costs or other reasons. In particular, [the company] will not [emphasis added] be specifically insured for environmental liability.”

A strange statement for a company that had a huge tailing pond at its Mount Polley mine situated by pristine lakes and world famous salmon spawning waters that are connected in myriad ways to First Nations and other local communities…

…Flash forward to today in the wake of the disastrous tailing pond spill at the Mount Polley mine. Company president, Brian Kynoch has indicated that the company’s insurance costs may not be enough to cover the spill costs (CBC News, 08/14). Other news reports claim that Imperial Metals has only $15 million in property and business interruption insurance coverage and $10 million in third-party liability insurance. There is no mention of environmental liability insurance.

So, does the company have environmental liability insurance today in 2014? It is not clear. One would hope it does, given that the company tailing pond appears to have been pushed to its limits over the last few years. However, according to the company’s 2013 Annual Report, “the Company’s property, business interruption and liability insurance may not provide sufficient coverage for losses related to these or other hazards” and the Company “may elect not to insure against certain hazards where insurance coverage may not continue to be available at economically feasible premiums.”

In any case, for the sake of everyone affected, the company should clarify whether or not it has environmental liability insurance.



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Common Sense Canadian


    tom baker

    Maybe its time to review ALL the mines in B.C. insurance..


    Not uncommon for large companies to self insure. I’m a bit amazed you all are just figuring that out…


    These companies don’t care. Their bought and paid for political agents destroy public regulation of their activities in exchange for donations to their political parties. The dumb citizens will pay for environmental cleanup, while the corporations disappear in the night with their obscene profits.

    William Haynes

    WTF …..15.000.000 insurance policy ….for a company that large with that much to loose ?
    Crap I carry at lease 2 million on public liability on my vehicle ….( doubt if I’ll ever need it )…but just incase I run over 30 kids’s there !
    It should be MANDITORY For them yo have MORE THAN Enough insurance for a disaster. Who cares what the premium is .
    It’ only makes sense …..
    What a bunch of numbskulls !!

    Bob Lerch

    This falls on the back of Government deregulation. Big corporations are allowed to make there own rules. Responsible Government is the only solution.

    Marilyn Rombough

    So much for the Liberal Government monitoring to protect our Environment. What happens now, taxpayers on the hook to pay for the cleanup? Christy Clark and her Ministers should do the right thing and Resign!


      I totally agree!

      David E

      Go to and sign the petition to have her recalled. I did.

      Frank H.

      ‘Collapse’ by Jared Diamond has covered this problem nicely. Mining disasters in Montana. pages35 to 52. The taxpayers are still paying for cleanups as far back as the 1800s. The mine owners took the profits and walked away from the mess.


      I don’t know how you fix STUPID. Plus, when there is an obvious lack of brains and common sense, aided by a propensity to lie outright – what do you have ? The current mining disaster in BC.

    Ron Wilton

    This is intolerable.

    All Imperial assets should be seized by FN’s and whatever semblance of real government we have left.

    The clark/bennett/polak team should be suspended and referred to the proper authorities for dereliction of duty.

      Bob Lerch

      That would be great Ron. If only elected officials could be held accountable for not acting in the public interest and for the public good!

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