Purge Cachethumb_up

Teck Logo

Sullivan Mine Banner

Sullivan Mine

111 Years of Community

About the Sullivan Mine

The Sullivan Mine, located in Kimberley, British Columbia, was a major producer of lead, zinc and silver that operated from 1909-2001. For nearly 100 years, the Sullivan Mine was critical to the social and economic fabric of the community. At the time of closure, the Sullivan Mine was the largest single contributor to Kimberley’s tax base and the city’s largest employer.  

During operations, the Sullivan employed on average 1,000 employees per year. Many former employees and their families still reside in Kimberley today.

Prior to closure, Teck’s predecessor Cominco and many community partners came together to develop a plan to transition Kimberley away from economic dependence on the mine. The group sought ways to maintain the vitality of the community by repurposing portions of the mine to capitalize on the natural landscape, climate and location. 

Almost 20 years have passed since the mine closed. Over that time, Kimberley has transitioned from a mining community to a booming tourist and retirement destination. The community remains vibrant and successful.

Our first priority is the health and safety of our team, our families, our neighbours, and all visitors to our community. Our team is dedicated to the ongoing responsible management of the site after nearly 100 years of active mining. The Sullivan Mine’s current employees, contractors and suppliers manage the property, monitor post-closure conditions, and operate site infrastructure, such as water management and treatment systems. 

We also take great pride in maintaining strong community partnerships. We are fortunate to live, work and play in Kimberley and the surrounding area, and are pleased to be part of this thriving community.


History

 

The Sullivan mine was discovered in 1892. The mine grew with the City of Kimberley, named in the hope that it would be as rich as the diamond mines in Kimberley, South Africa. The Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, a Teck predecessor company, acquired the mine in 1909.

In the early 1900s, the mine operated on a very small scale as the ore was hard to handle and separation of lead and silver was entirely by hand. The mine could only produce about 50 tonnes of lead per day, and the zinc-rich fragments were discarded as waste.

By 1922, the company was one of the first in the world to commercialize differential froth flotation, a revolutionary process that made the recovery of zinc economical. This resulted in the construction of an on-site concentrator and had a profound impact on the mine’s growth. By 1949, the Sullivan had a capacity of 11,000 tonnes per day. 

Additional operations were constructed during various stages of the mine’s life to utilize the resources and diversify products, providing added financial stability to the mine and the community. These operations included a tin plant (1942-1985), a fertilizer plant (1953-1971), an iron plant (1960-1971) and a steel plant (1966-1971). The deposits were also rich in indium, which helped the operations in Trail become one of the largest producers of indium in the world.

Over its lifetime, from 1909-2001, the Sullivan Mine produced 26 million tonnes of lead, zinc and silver concentrates. By the time the Sullivan Mine closed in 2001, it had become one of the largest underground mines in Canada with almost 500 kilometres of tunnels. 

The Sullivan Mine truly has a deep and fascinating history. We encourage you to visit the Kimberley Mine Museum, located in Kimberley’s Platzl, where you can learn more about the history of the Sullivan Mine and Kimberley, as well as ride the Kimberley Underground Mining Railway, which provides guests the opportunity to enjoy a guided train tour through the historic Lower Mine area and experience a demonstration of underground mining.


Closure and Reclamation

Environmental management had been advancing since the 1960s, and a number of research programs were underway when mine closure plans were initiated. These programs included:

  • Characterization of the chemical and physical properties of the mine and mill wastes

  • Construction of a high-density sludge water treatment plant (1979)

  • Test plots of different engineered cover designs for capping of  tailings ponds and waste dumps

  • Selection of plant species and fertilizer requirements for future revegetation of waste rock areas

By 1990, it was confirmed that the Sullivan Mine’s reserves would be exhausted by 2001 and a detailed closure plan was developed. More than 30 community and stakeholder meetings were held to review and comment on the proposed reclamation plans. Meetings with the public began in 1992 with the formation of the Sullivan Public Liaison Committee (SPLC). The SPLC included local government agencies, provincial and federal ministries, the local Steelworkers union, the local tribal council, City of Kimberley councillors, members of the public and the East Kootenay Environmental Society.

Teck worked with the SPLC and others to develop a plan to transition the city away from economic dependence on the mine. Working together, Teck and its community partners sought ways to maintain the vitality of the community by re-purposing portions of the mine to capitalize on the natural landscape, climate and location – all uniquely suited to attract a vibrant tourist trade.

Site Reclamation

Reclamation research began in 1972, which included determining how to convert the waste rock dumps and tailings ponds into productive forest and rangeland. Progressive reclamation began in 1990 and continued through mine closure. The waste rock dumps and tailings ponds have been re-contoured, capped with a low permeability till layer (growth medium), and planted with agronomic seed mixes to reduce erosion. The revegetation process also included the planting of trees and shrubs. The site is physically stable and its appearance has been greatly enhanced.

The reclaimed lands now support a vibrant ungulate population and increasing diversity of species as the vegetation matures. In all, Teck has reclaimed 1,000 hectares of land and spent more than $100 million executing the mine’s closure plan. Other Teck-owned property within the city not used for mining has been donated or sold in an effort to help the Kimberley community achieve post-closure success. There are many obvious and rewarding changes in the post-reclamation environment at the Sullivan Mine, including an increase in the number of species and the size of the various wildlife populations. Teck continues to monitor reclamation performance and enhance the native tree and shrub islands to promote habitat biodiversity on the site.

Concentrator area in 1989 during operations and in 2020

Water Protection

Environmental controls to manage and protect surface water and groundwater quality have been in place since the 1960s. There have been dramatic improvements in water quality indicators in Mark Creek and the St. Mary since the 1970s as a result of implementing water collection and treatment strategies, and we are continually monitoring and pursuing improvements to site systems. We are honoured to have been recognized with a 2020 BC Mine Reclamation Award for Outstanding Reclamation Achievement by The British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation for our ongoing efforts to protect water quality at the former Sullivan Mine site.


Transition and Investment

Teck facilitated employee transition planning and worked with the city to accelerate development and diversification initiatives to give the City of Kimberley a foundation upon which it could build its future. Out of the general focus on social and economic sustainability arose two primary projects aimed at productively repurposing the Sullivan Mine. The first component was the development of a golf and ski resort that could help mitigate the impact of lost mining revenues on the city. The second was providing land for residential real estate.

Teck sold land to the city at significantly less than fair market value for the development of two championship golf courses, Trickle Creek Golf Course and the Bootleg Gap Golf Course and provided financial assistance to the renovation of a third, the Kimberley Golf Club. Teck also made significant contributions to facilitate the expansion of an existing ski hill that had come under city management when the local ski club was no longer in a position to run it. In addition to donating the land for the original ski hill, Teck also helped the city expand and improve it.

The appeal of these resort offerings was further enhanced by a number of pre-mine closure contributions Teck made to Kimberley’s recreational capacity, including building the Civic Arena, as well as a curling rink, two outdoor pools and the Cominco Gardens, a five-hectare property of natural trails featuring over 45,000 flowers blooming annually.

Teck also made available, through a joint venture with a developer, land required for a residential real-estate development marketed to people who were looking for vacation homes in a resort-style setting. Teck recognized the need to increase the city’s population to support the new markets, so they arranged for a ‘land swap’ between the city – which owned a parcel of land that was well suited for real estate development – and  Teck – which owned a parcel of parkland the city was interested in obtaining. This ‘land swap’ facilitated the construction of seasonal and permanent residences marketed to out-of-town buyers.


Current Activity

Since closure in 2001, the Sullivan Mine has been carefully managed according to regulatory requirements, Teck’s own standards and the standards of the Mining Association of Canada. Employees and contractors are required to monitor post-closure conditions and operate site infrastructure, such as the water management and treatment systems. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources provide regulatory oversight, and environmental and geotechnical monitoring and reporting requirements are contained in permits issued by these agencies to ensure closure objectives are met. 

The Sullivan Mine employs more than 20 employees and contractors. Additional contractors and consultants are also routinely on site to conduct environmental and geotechnical monitoring, monitor the reclamation progress, manage invasive plants, complete forestry interface work for fire protection, and complete upgrades to site infrastructure. We have an active comprehensive management program in place and continue to work to address challenges related to more than 100 years of active mining at the site. The office at the Sullivan Mine also has employees and contractors who manage other Teck legacy sites in Canada.

A significant number of Teck employees, as well as contractor and suppliers live and work in Kimberley, contributing to the ongoing responsible management the now-closed Sullivan Mine. Our team takes great pride in maintaining strong community partnerships.

SunMine

Teck expanded its post-mining community investments beyond recreational amenities and real estate when it collaborated with a solar developer and the City of Kimberley to construct SunMine, a pilot solar panel project on Sullivan land and the first solar power plant in Western Canada to connect to the power grid. 

SunMine is truly a community endeavor. The City of Kimberley initially co-financed and owned SunMine while Teck provided the land and donated $2 million to the project. In January 2020, Teck announced the purchase of SunMine from the city of Kimberley. BC Hydro purchases the solar-generated electricity.

Electricity generated from SunMine is used to offset power needs at the Sullivan Mine, and any surplus energy is added to the grid. In a news release announcing the purchase, Teck stated, “Development of the SunMine aligns with Teck’s approach to working with stakeholders to develop post-mining land uses, from wildlife habitat to economic diversification.” Teck is also seeking other opportunities to maximize the SunMine facility and investigate renewal energy technologies for the Sullivan Mine and other Teck operations.

Water Management and Treatment

Water management and treatment will continue indefinitely at the Sullivan Mine site to ensure protection of the area’s water resources. Major improvements have been made in receiving water quality and we continue to seek innovative solutions. 

Our award-winning water management and treatment activities include collection of mine-influenced water from underground workings and waste facilities. The management systems include more than 25 pumps and 30 km of pipeline to collect water and convey it to the Drainage Water Treatment Plant located southwest of Marysville. These systems are continually monitored, maintained and upgraded, and research is ongoing for alternative methods to manage water for the long term. Examples of recent upgrades include the groundwater collection systems around Gerry Sorensen Way and the Lower Mine Yard, where Teck has spent more than $4 Million in upgrades since 2016.

The Drainage Water Treatment Plant features a high-density sludge treatment process. At the time of construction in 1979, this innovative process was one of the first of its kind in the world. This technology is now used for new mines around the world where water treatment is required.  Between 1 and 3 million cubic metres (mm3) of water is treated each year. For context, one million cubic meters is the equivalent of 400 Olympic-size swimming pools.  We are actively pursuing new technologies for water treatment, including biological treatment systems that are considered ‘passive’ and rely on natural processes to clean water.

Teck Public Access Boundaries
For your safety and ours, please observe the no entry, no hunting and no shooting boundaries at Teck’s Sullivan operations. See a detailed map of the restricted access boundaries.

Land Management
Teck continues to maintain over 3,000 hectares of private property in and around the City of Kimberley. Most of this land base is forested, and management activities include invasive plant treatments, forest management, and ongoing agreements with local organizations. Outside city limits, Teck has worked with conservancy groups and the Crown since the late 1990s to establish the Wycliffe Conservation Complex, a 1,000-hectare corridor that links the St. Mary River to Crown land in the north. 

In 2018, Teck donated $600,000 to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to create an ongoing management fund for these lands. In cooperation with the conservation groups, Teck currently allows limited recreational access to roughly 450 hectares of land adjacent to the Conservation lands.Forest management is an important aspect of land management to reduce wildfire risks in and around Kimberley, and each year Teck treats between 30 to 50 hectares of forested land. Treatments include removal of ladder fuels within the forest; these fuels are typically small diameter trees and low branches. This activity opens the forest floor and allows shrubby and deciduous plants to flourish. After treatment, the forest ecosystem is improved and wildfire hazard is greatly reduced.  Additionally, invasive plant treatments are routinely administered around the mine and other properties around Kimberley. In 2019, Teck lands around Forest Crowne was added in partnership with Nupqu Development Corp., and this area is now part of regular inventories and treatments.

In 2019, Teck partnered with the Kimberley Trail Society (KTS) to formalize the use and maintenance of popular hiking and mountain biking trails located on Teck property within Kimberley city limits. Teck is also a Platinum sponsor of the KTS to ensure that these trails are kept safe and fun for years to come.


Teck

Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with major business units focused on copper, steelmaking coal and zinc, as well as investments in energy assets.