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Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Mines Act updates to improve permitting, regulation in B.C.

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Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Mines Act updates to improve permitting, regulation in B.C.

Media Contacts
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Media Relations
250 952-0628
Media Contacts
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Media Relations
250 952-0628

Backgrounders

Increased oversight, efficiency possible with Mines Act updates

Proposed changes to the Mines Act will separate regulatory accountabilities, establish the audit function for the ministry and strengthen compliance and enforcement. Specifically, the proposed amendments include:

New chief permitting officer

  • Designated by the minister, the chief permitting officer will be a new statutory decision-maker responsible for permitting decisions under the Mines Act.
  • Prior to these amendments, the chief inspector of mines was responsible for both permitting decisions and for health and safety and enforcement under the Mines Act.
  • Separating statutory accountability for permitting from health and safety will improve permitting and allow the chief inspector to focus on health, safety and enforcement accountabilities.

New audit function

  • At the direction of a newly created statutory decision-maker position (chief auditor), audits will evaluate the effectiveness of the regulatory system for mining in British Columbia in protecting the public, workers and the environment.
  • Each audit will generally include an assessment of industry performance and trends, ministry actions and current regulatory requirements.
    • Auditors will have the authority to enter mines, gather information and issue orders where imminent threats to persons, property or the environment are identified.
  • The chief auditor is designated by the minister and will be independent from the functions of permitting, health and safety and enforcement.
  • The chief auditor will publish an annual audit plan, identifying audit priorities for the year, and will publish audit reports after the completion of each audit setting out conclusions, reasons and recommendations.

Compliance and enforcement enhancements

  • Stronger order authorities to protect the environment:
    Where an inspector believes a delay in remedying a hazard would be dangerous to the environment, the inspector may order mine closure or suspension of work until remedial action is taken.
  • Broader authority for the chief inspector to take action when needed:
    The chief inspector may now enter any mine and take action where there is an emergency to prevent danger to persons, property or the environment, with strengthened abilities to recover costs.
  • Clarified offences and longer limitation period:
    It is an offence to contravene a condition of a permit or provide false or misleading information to any Mines Act official. In addition, the limitation period for commencing an offence prosecution under the Mines Act and Environmental Management Act will be extended from three years to five years.
  • Broader Investigation Authority:
    The authority for the chief inspector to conduct investigations into serious matters has been broadened to include any incident that caused or had the potential to cause personal injury, loss of life, property or environmental damage.
  • Authority to bring persons and equipment on inspections:
    Explicit authority has been added for an inspector to bring any person and equipment that the inspector considers necessary for the inspection. This includes Indigenous accompaniment on inspections. 

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