(Ottawa) MiningWatch Canada welcomes the B.C. government’s Wednesday announcement that it will review the provincial mining code, but warns that the review needs to be broad enough to address the full range of necessary changes in mining policies and regulations.
“The Province is taking positive steps to beef up regulatory and administrative monitoring of mining tailings in B.C., but in the wake of the Mount Polley Independent Panel Report, the First Nations Energy and Mining Council Report, and the recent Auditor General Report on cumulative effects of resources development, we hope that these steps can be matched with parallel reforms of environmental assessment requirements, financial assurance review, and stronger community participation mechanisms in decision making processes,” says Ugo Lapointe, Canada program coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.
MiningWatch suggests the B.C. government could take a look at what other major mining jurisdictions in Canada have done in recent years, such as Ontario and Quebec, and undertake broader changes to its mining policies and regulations.
Lapointe provides some examples: “Since 2013, Quebec requires that almost all new mines be subject to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, with an independent panel review. Quebec also strengthened its financial assurance requirements for site remediation, at least half of which has to be put up before the mine opens. Municipalities will also soon have a say in designating “no go zones” for mining in sensitive areas. Ontario has also reformed its Mining Act to include mandatory consultation and permitting assessments at the exploration phase, and is now reviewing its Mineral Development Strategy.”
MiningWatch Canada hopes that the B.C. mining code review that was announced yesterday could also include, or be paralleled with, other reforms for issues as important as:
- Improved environmental impact and sustainability assessments of mining projects
- Strengthened financial assurance for spills, accidents, and site closure reclamation
- Stronger environmental and safety compliance mechanisms
- Transparent community consultation processes, starting at the exploration phase
- Land use planning ahead of mining to reduce conflicts, balance development choices, and improve decision-making
- Respect for First Nations’ treaty and inherent rights to land, waters, and resources
MiningWatch is also calling for a clear commitment to a broader public consultation process and a legislative committee process to help develop any proposed changes. “It is not clear to us at this stage if the B.C. government intends to table legislative amendments -- if it will ever submit its proposed changes to a legislative committee in Victoria for greater public scrutiny,” wonders Lapointe.
“Proceeding with those much needed reforms would help keep the environment and communities safer, and avoid further undermining public confidence in the mining sector in B.C.,” concludes Lapointe.
Ugo Lapointe, (514) 708-0134, [email protected]
For further recommendations on B.C. mining reforms, see also: