British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

A discussion of some aspects of copper loading and stream flow below the abandoned copper mine on Mount Washington, British Columbia Birtwistle, Jamie; Campbell, Sean; Carleton, Laura; Fodor, Simon


This paper is an excerpt from the report “Loading and Stream Flow Below the Abandoned Mount Washington Copper Mine, British Columbia”, written in the Spring (2005) and submitted as part of a sustainability project in Camosun College, Victoria, BC. In the 1980s, studies attributed a decline in salmon populations in the Tsolum river to poor water quality caused by acid mine drainage and high copper concentrations in the creeks flowing off the Mount Washington mine site. Various remediation projects were initiated, with studies conducted to measure their effectiveness. The subject of this paper is the relationship between flow and copper loadings. The study uses historical data and the results of sampling, and analysis in 2005. The results show a clear relationship between flow and copper loadings at most times of year. When discharge is low to moderate, the supply of soluble, weathered copper on the mine site is ample, and the loading-discharge relationship is discharge-dependent and linear. However, through the high discharge of the late spring freshet and winter rains, the supply of soluble, weathered copper appears to become depleted. At such times, the relationship between loading and flow is apparently non-linear.

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