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More mines inspectors coming

Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

More mines inspectors are going to be making their way out to B.C. mining operations.

“We are putting additional resources in place to enable more frequent inspections and upping enforcement to keep mines safe, for workers and for our environment,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources announcing two expanded mining divisions this week. “At the same time, we have a more efficient and predictable permit approval process, to encourage investment and get new projects built without unnecessary delays.”

The announcement comes five years after the Mount Polley tailings pond breach which sent millions of tonnes of mud and debris into Quesnel Lake.

The two expanded mining divisions are the Mines Health, Safety and Enforcement Division and the Mines Competitiveness and Authorizations Division.

The Mines Health, Safety and Enforcement Division will include a greater number of mines inspectors and a new auditing function to increase industry safety. The division’s priorities will be focused on health, safety, compliance management and enforcement activities. A new compliance auditing and effectiveness monitoring team within the division will function as an independent oversight unit.

The Mines Competitiveness and Authorizations Division will promote increased investment in B.C.’s mining sector through an improved and properly resourced approvals process. This will help position B.C. as an attractive jurisdiction for investment by focusing on regulatory certainty, social acceptance, Indigenous reconciliation and partnerships, innovation, world-class geoscience and leading environmental standards.

“The Mining Association of BC (MABC) is pleased to see the government’s commitment to address some of the competitiveness challenges facing the mining industry,” said Lindsay Kislock, vice-president, corporate affairs, MABC. “MABC has continually advocated for an adequately resourced system that functions with clarity, consistency and co-ordination. This advocacy was echoed in the recommendations from the Mining Jobs Task Force, which acknowledged that competitiveness challenges facing the mining industry must be addressed.”

“The provincial government’s increased investment will create significant new opportunities for B.C.’s mining sector,” said Michelle Laurie, staff representative with the United Steelworkers and B.C. Mining Jobs Task Force member. “The Province’s commitment to attract and retain women and Indigenous peoples in the workforce is a step forward for people who have traditionally been under-represented in the mining industry.”

“A year ago, the Mining Jobs Task Force was formed, and we have reached consensus on how to strengthen this vital resource industry through a comprehensive set of actions,” said Edie Thome, president and CEO of the Association of Mineral Exploration. “Through our discussions with First Nations, industry, stakeholders and people working in mineral exploration and mining throughout B.C., we gained a sense of what was needed and are pleased to see the necessary resources being committed to deliver in the latest budget.”

The province is committing $20 million over three years to support these changes. The ministry is creating 30 additional positions in 2019-20 in the two new divisions, with up to 35 additional positions added next year and the year after.