Content of Notice of Work Application
Overview of BC Law
In BC, proponents must submit the following information in their Notice of Work applications:34
- contact information about the applicant, permittee and operator;
- tenure information, land-use designation and resource inventory;
- site location (including maps) and timeline (including schedules) of the exploration activity;
- description of the project and types of proposed exploration activities (such as blasting, trenching, etc.);
- identification of any cultural heritage resources;
- confirmation of consultation with First Nations and the public;
- details of actions designed to minimize any adverse impacts of the proposed activity; and
- any other information required by the Chief Inspector.
The information currently required in a Notice of Work application is often insufficient for the government to make an informed decision about the potential social, cultural, economic and environmental consequences of the proposed exploration activities and the proponent’s capacity to manage these potential consequences. In addition, First Nations often have very little time or resources to provide comments and recommendations in response to Notice of Work referrals.
Include cultural heritage assessment in permit application for exploration activities
[Tags: Exploration; Notice of Work Application; Cultural Protection]
BC’s Notice of Work application requires miners to attach information and supporting evidence that describes the type of inquiries made to determine the presence of cultural heritage resources.35 Only if such resources are found are applicants required to attach a plan detailing how they propose to protect the cultural heritage resources. At first glance, this requirement appears to protect cultural heritage resources. However, if the proponent does not make adequate inquiries, the contingent assessment can be avoided.
Legislation in New South Wales (Australia) sets out a number of offences for harming ‘Aboriginal objects’, along with certain defences, including the exercise of appropriate standards of due diligence if a proponent unknowingly harms Aboriginal objects.36 In the case of ground disturbing activities, a cultural heritage assessment is required to determine whether activities could harm Aboriginal objects and any further steps that may be required (eg, whether the proponent needs to apply for an Aboriginal heritage impact permit where Aboriginal objects are or likely to present any the proposed activity will cause harm). This assessment includes a search of a government database of notified Aboriginal objects to help determine whether the proposed exploration activity would affect any Aboriginal objects on the land.37 A similar mandatory cultural heritage assessment in the Notice of Work application would help ensure that the proposed exploration program will not adversely affect any land or objects of cultural significance to First Nations.
Include socio-economic benefits plan in permit application for exploration activities
[Tags: Exploration; Notice of Work Application; Socio-Economic Benefits]
In Zambia, a licence application must contain a proposal for employment and training of citizens of Zambia and for promoting local business development.38 No similar requirement is mandated under BC law.
Require environmental protection planning for exploration activities
[Tags: Exploration; Notice of Work Application; Environment Protection; Plan]
Under BC law, if the Chief Inspector exempts a miner from having to obtain a permit for exploration activities, there is no residual legal requirement to complete an environmental protection plan. This creates a gap in environmental protection planning for exploration activities.39
In contrast, in other jurisdictions, environmental protection plans are mandatory for all exploration activities. For example, in Mongolia, no exploration activities can commence until an environmental protection plan has been submitted and approved by the relevant environmental protection authorities.40 In Zambia, applicants must submit an environmental management plan that sets out “the applicant’s proposals for the prevention of pollution, the treatment of waste, the protection and reclamation of land and water resources, and for eliminating or minimizing the adverse effects on the environment of prospecting operations”.41
Include closure and reclamation plans in permit application for exploration activities
[Tags: Exploration; Notice of Work Application; Closure; Reclamation; Plan]
In BC, to obtain Notice of Work approval, the miner must provide a program for the protection and reclamation of the affected land, watercourses and cultural heritage resources.42 This information is submitted as part of the Notice of Work application, and requires applicants to “describe the proposed reclamation and timing of reclamation work for all of the areas of disturbance associated with the proposed work”.43 The applicant must also provide an accurate estimate of reclamation costs, and details on reclamation methods, equipment, objectives, and expected results.44 However, if the Chief Inspector exempts a miner from having to obtain a permit for exploration activities, there is no residual legal requirement to prepare a closure or reclamation plan.
Other jurisdictions explicitly require that closure and/or reclamation plans be submitted for all exploration activities. In the United States, the Department of the Interior requires that an exploration plan, containing preventative and reclamation efforts to mitigate environmental damage, be filed before conducting any exploration activities on Indigenous peoples’ territory.45 In both Oregon and New Mexico, reclamation plans are mandatory for exploration activities.46 In Manitoba, closure plans are also required for advanced exploration projects.47
Include estimate of revenue and expenditures in permit application for exploration activities
[Tags: Exploration; Notice of Work Application; Financial Disclosure]
Estimates of financial expenditures are not explicitly required under BC law for exploration licence applications. In contrast, in Western Australia, a statement must be lodged with the application that provides an estimate of the amount of money proposed to be expended while carrying out exploration activities.48 Similar requirements are also in place in Vietnam.49
Include details of miner’s experience, and technical and financial resources in permit application for exploration activities
[Tags: Exploration; Notice of Work Application; Financial Disclosure; Expertise]
In Mozambique, proponents must provide documentation demonstrating the technical and financial resources they have available and their experience in the management and undertaking of the type of operations requested in the permit application.50 In Angola, prospecting/exploration permits will only be granted to applicants “who are capable of guaranteeing their own technical competence and the financial resources required to execute the operations correctly to meet the intended purposes”.51 Similar requirements are also in place in Malawi.52