Construction of tailings impoundment facility now in operation at Red Chris mine south of Dease Lake in northwestern B.C.

Mine inspections beefed up in B.C.

Premier Christy Clark says budget increased $6 million to create new office for major mine regulation in wake of Mount Polley failure

The B.C. government is moving to restore confidence in its mine inspection system with a $6 million budget increase and a new office dedicated to overseeing major mines.

Premier Christy Clark announced the changes Monday at the annual B.C. Association for Mineral Exploration conference in Vancouver. The money comes from contingency funds in the current budget, and will be added to the base budget of the Ministry of Energy and Mines for future years.

Mine inspections have been under scrutiny since the collapse of the tailings dam at Mount Polley copper-gold mine near Williams Lake last summer. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett at first insisted that geotechnical inspections of large B.C. mines were unaffected by budget cuts that reduced inspections of gravel mining and other operations, but Monday’s announcement tells a different story.

“Since 2011, we’ve made significant improvements to increase geotechnical inspections, hire additional staff and reduce the turnaround time for notice of work permits,” Bennett said in a statement after the premier’s announcement.

NDP leader John Horgan said the premier’s announcement appears to be in preparation for what he expects will be “a very damning report” on the Mount Polley situation, which is subject to multiple investigations after the earth dam around its tailings pond abruptly breached and released millions of tonnes of water and mine tailings.

Horgan said it’s unusual for any government to fund essential work like mine inspections out of contingency funds, and he’s not convinced that it really has been happening. The government refused opposition calls to release all provincial mine inspection records, instead appointing an independent expert panel to review the Mount Polley events.

Bennett visited Alaska in November to reassure state officials and fishermen about B.C. mining oversight, after the province issued an environmental certificate to develop a major metal ore deposit near the Alaska border.

The ministry expects to collect an extra $3 million a year from additional fees collected from working mines.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hazardous black ice coats Greater Victoria streets

Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians warned to be cautious

Adverse weather cancelled more than 900 ferry sailings in 2012

Less than three weeks into January, BC Ferries has cancelled more than 230 sailings

Speeding Alaska driver tells VicPD police chief he knows how to drive in the snow

Chief Const. Del Manak saw the speeder while driving on Highway 17

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

Most Read