Closure plans are prepared in the early development of a mine and include information like reclamation objectives and cost estimates.
Under BC law, only 7 days’ notice must be provided for mine work stoppage. This suddenness could be detrimental to local communities.
BC law mandates both:
- Short term operational plans detailing reclamation over the upcoming five years; and
- Reclamation plans detailing long-term post-closure maintenance and land-use objectives.
Reclamation refers to the act of restoring areas impacted by mining activities.
The Chief Inspector Mines has discretion in deciding on whether to, for example, approve a mine closure plan or refer the application to other ministries for recommendations.
Effective regulation means the mining regulatory authority should be able to rely on other government agencies for support in reviewing mine closure plans. However, if comments from these agencies are not afforded legal weight, there is little incentive for them to commit adequate resources to review the plan.
The Chief Inspector may therefore not follow the typical requirements and make decisions regarding a mine’s closure without consulting other government agencies, First Nations or members of the public.
Unlike BC, Ontario law expressly requires First Nations’ consultation before closure plans are filed.
Since mining activities have far-reaching impacts and local communities bear the heaviest impacts from local mining activities and their aftermath, it is important that adequate reviews of closure and post closure plans include First Nations and public consultation.