Permits for Mine Development and Operation

Mine Permit Amendment Applications

Overview of BC Law

Mines generally have lifespans of several decades, during which time mine site conditions often change. In BC, if a proponent wishes to have its mine permit conditions revised, it must apply to the Chief Inspector.173 This application must be approved before any changes are made to the existing mine plan and reclamation program.174 The Chief Inspector has broad powers to impose additional conditions, or change existing conditions, where he or she considers it necessary.175


BC’s laws do not provide sufficient details on when a mine permit amendment must be sought, the factors that the Chief Inspector must consider in evaluating the application, or the extent to which consultation must take place before a decision is made.176

Recommended Solutions

Amend mine permit conditions to reflect material changes, such as mine expansion

[Tags: Mine Permit Amendment]

Under US federal law, any extensions to the area covered by a mine permit, other than incidental boundary revisions, must be made pursuant to an application for another permit.177 In New Zealand, the regulatory authority must consider whether the extension “will facilitate a more rational carrying out of activities under the permit”.178 Under European Union law, member states must ensure that government authorities update permit conditions where there are substantial changes in the operation of the waste facility or the waste deposited.179 This provision should be coupled with a requirement that companies provide notice of material changes to the regulatory authority, as is required under Ontario legislation.180 Such provisions ensure that mine expansions are carefully considered before approval is granted.

Amend mine permit where necessary for environmental protection

[Tags: Mine Permit Amendment; Environment]

Although BC mining law grants the Chief Inspector broad powers to change mine permit conditions, the law does not explicitly state that this can be done for environmental protection purposes. In contrast, BC’s Environmental Management Act empowers the regulatory authority to amend a waste permit on its own initiative for several purposes, including to decrease the authorized quantity of the discharge, emission or stored material, or to change the works, method of treatment or any other condition of the permit such that there is a lesser impact on the environment.181 Similarly, in Victoria (Australia), the Minister can vary a licence, add a licence condition, or vary, revoke or cancel a licence condition if she or he decides it is necessary “for the protection of the environment or the rehabilitation or stabilisation of the land to which the licence applies” or “to ensure that appropriate environmental offsets are provided for or implemented”.182

Consider reclamation feasibility in reviewing mine permit amendment applications

[Tags: Mine Permit Amendment; Reclamation]

The feasibility of reclamation is an important consideration in applications for changes in mine permit conditions. Amendment applications should only be approved where reclamation continues to be feasible. Under US federal law, legal provisions prohibit the approval of a mine permit revision application unless reclamation can be accomplished under the revised reclamation plan. Any revisions proposing significant alterations to the existing reclamation plan are also subject to minimum notice and hearing requirements.183

Consult with public on mine permit amendment applications

[Tags: Mine Permit Amendment; Public; Consultation]

To promote greater transparency, adequate public participation must be carried out throughout mine life. Under European Union law, member states must ensure that the public is informed of any updates to mine permit conditions.184 In addition, the law mandates that the public be entitled to express comments before a decision is taken,185 and that public consultations be taken into account in making a decision.186 In Minnesota, the law provides that where a proposed amendment constitutes a substantial change to the mine permit, the applicant must publish a notice of the change and hold a public hearing if written objections are received.187

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