Permits for Mine Development and Operation

Conditions to attach to Mine Permits

Overview of BC Law

In BC, the Chief Inspector of Mines has broad powers to impose mine permit conditions that she or he “considers necessary”, as well as additional conditions or changes in the existing conditions after granting the mine permit.151 Mine permit conditions may also include commitments identified in the environmental assessment.152 Proponents are legally required to comply with these mine permit conditions.

Mine permit conditions can help fill legislative gaps and promote more responsible mining practices. There are no minimum mandatory conditions that must be attached to mine permits in BC.153 The only condition specified in the legislation is the requirement to file reclamation security. However, even this is not mandatory because the Chief Inspector retains the discretion to exclude this requirement.154


The lack of minimum mine permit conditions, coupled with the Chief Inspector’s broad discretion, creates inconsistent environmental and social protection from mining activities across the province. Provincial policy documents have recognized that this approach results in inconsistent treatment at different mines.155

Recommended Solutions

Specify minimum mine permit conditions

[Tags: Mine Permit; Conditions]

BC’s current mining laws grant regulators significant discretion on setting specific mine permit terms and conditions. Mandated minimum permit conditions would help ensure greater consistency and certainty of local community protection from mining activities across the province. Many jurisdictions already clearly specify minimum permit conditions.

For example, in New Brunswick, one of the necessary pre-conditions to opening a mine is ministerial approval of the lessee’s program for the protection, reclamation and rehabilitation of the environment. Another mandatory condition is that the lessee “institute and carry out a program for the protection of the environment affected by the mining operation; undertake and complete a program for the reclamation and rehabilitation of the environment affected by the mining operation; and leave the environment in a condition satisfactory to the Minister”.156

Manitoba also requires the “safe and secure disposal of earth, rock, waste or refuse resulting from work done under the lease and for the safe and secure disposal of water that is removed from the workings under the lease”.157

Mining legislation in Queensland (Australia)158 and Malaysia159 also specifies mandatory conditions for mine permits. This promotes a more thorough and consistent approach and ensures that important matters are not overlooked.

Attach conditions specified by other government agencies

[Tags: Mine Permit; Conditions; Government Agencies]

As discussed above, it is important to have other government departments consider a mine permit application where mining activities may impact statutory issues that they are responsible for. In BC, there is no guarantee that comments from other agencies will be granted legal weight by being included as legally enforceable mine permit conditions. In contrast, Oregon’s laws require that conditions recommended by other ministries must be incorporated into permits for chemical process mines.160 If these comments are not followed, the regulatory agency must provide written reasons for deviating from the environmental evaluations.161 By enacting a similar law, BC could, for example, ensure that commitments attached to environmental assessment certificates become legally enforceable.

Attach the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ constitutional rights as a mine permit condition

[Tags: Mine Permit; Conditions; Rights]

Indigenous peoples’ rights in Canada have been granted Constitutional protection. However, as mining activities can have significant impacts on Indigenous peoples’ traditional territories, Indigenous peoples’ rights should also be explicitly recognized under mining laws. This is recognized in Ontario where legislation specifies that every mine permit issued, including old mine permits and all mine permit renewals, “shall include or be deemed to include the following provision: The Lessee’s rights under this lease are subject to the protection provided for existing Indigenous or treaty rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the Lessee shall conduct itself on the demised premises in a manner consistent with the protection provided to any such right”.162

Attach as a condition the preparation and publication of annual environmental, socio-economic and cultural monitoring reports

[Tags: Mine Permit; Conditions; Reporting]

In BC, proponents are required to submit a program for the environmental protection of land and watercourses during the construction and operational phases of the mining operation, and an annual report of reclamation and environmental monitoring work performed.163 In Mozambique, the law goes further by requiring all mine permit holders to annually submit an environmental management report that describes the findings from their environmental, biophysical, socio-economic and cultural monitoring.164

Require payment of annual mine permit fees

[Tags: Mine Permit; Conditions; Fees]

Many jurisdictions include the payment of an annual mine permit fee as a mandatory mine permit condition. This fee helps cover government administrative, compliance and enforcement costs. There are currently no provisions under BC law that mandate the payment of annual mine permit fees. In contrast, revenues generated by annual maintenance fees are a key aspect of the Latin American Mining Law Model, in which revenues are used to fund the necessary mining sector administrative institutions (cadastre and registry, inspectorate, geological service) which help assure its self-sufficiency.165 Similarly, in Minnesota, annual fees (determined by whether the mine has been in production) are imposed on mine permit holders.166

Extend term of mine permit to end of reclamation

[Tags: Mine Permit; Conditions; Term]

BC mining law does not explicitly state how long a mine permit remains active. This differs from other jurisdictions that explicitly set out permit terms and renewal terms. For example, Manitoba,167 Yukon,168 Northwest Territories and Nunavut169 set out 21 year terms with the option to renew for second 21 year terms; New Brunswick mandates 20 year terms with option to renew for two additional 20 year terms;170 and Quebec provides for 20 year terms with three possible renewals of 10 year periods.171 An alternative approach is to grant a permit for the term determined to be necessary to complete the proposed mining operation, including reclamation activities: Minnesota has adopted this approach.172

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