BC Mining Issue:Although there are regulations and processes for prospecting, once prospecting takes place there is no mandate to notify or consult First Nations, or any monitoring, oversight, or stewardship provisions governing how prospecting activities take place.
Fair Mining Best Practice:Require prospectors to obtain First Nation consent before entering land, and require that prospectors complete a cultural awareness program and an environmental awareness program before being issued a Free Miner Certificate.
BC’s recent boom in mineral prospecting and exploration has cast light on deficiencies in BC mining law. BC needs to modernize these laws in order to clarify the relationship between First Nations and prospectors and to ensure better protection against the environmental impact of exploration activities.
In BC, there is no government guidance or oversight of how prospecting occurs in light of First Nations territorial claims or concerns. There is also no requirement for the government or the proponent to notify or consult with First Nations before prospecting activities occur on their traditional territories.
The 30 days that First Nations have to review and prepare a response to a complex Notice of Work application is often not enough.
This situation is exacerbated by an insufficient amount of information required in a proponent’s Notice of Work (NoW) application. A Notice of Work is a type of mine permit that allows the mining company to do advanced exploration, like drilling and bulk sampling. A mining company applies for this permit after a mineral deposit is discovered and further exploration of that deposit is desired. Under current BC mining law, NoW applications do no require adequate information to make a decision about the socioeconomic and environmental consequences of the proposed mining activity.
In Angola, prospecting / exploration permits will only be granted to applicants who can guarantee technical competence and the financial resources to execute the activity correctly.
BC should follow the example of other jurisdictions with more rigorous permitting processes and require proponent’s applying for permits to include:
- cultural heritage impact assessments
- socio-economic benefit plans
- environmental protection plans
- estimates of expenditures
- closure and reclamation plans
- details of the miner’s experience and financial recourses
The following sections highlights where BC should modernize and strengthen its current mining legislation.