Permits for Mine Development and Operation


BC Mining Issue:There are no specific legal requirements to guide the Chief inspector in making decisions to exempt large scale mines from the requirement to obtain a mine permit.

Fair Mining Best Practice:Require mine permits for all large scale mines.

The mine permit stage is the fourth phase in the mine licensing process. A mine permit is the document that gives a proponent rights to use land and extract materials through surface or underground development and production.

Under BC’s Mine Act, ‘mine permits,’ are required for:

  • Surface or underground development and production
  • Major expansions or modifications to existing mines.
  • Underground exploration.
  • Surface or underground development and production

The permit process is meant to provide an extra layer of public consultation and government oversight of mine projects. However, BC law fails to adequately address this ‘extra layer’ because it does not specify which factors must be taken into account when reviewing the permit application, or what factors will lead to a denial of the mine permit application.

BC law does not specify factors that must be taken into account when granting mine permits, or when renewing, revising and transferring mine permits.

Many places throughout the world require permits for all large-scale mine projects. In BC, however, the Chief Inspector of Mines has broad powers to exempt large-scale mines from these permits, and does so without guidance from any specific legal provisions. This broad power of discretion without legislation is a huge legislative gap. This gap could be filled with provisions to strengthen the permit process and mandate more responsible mining practices.

Some remedies for this legislative gap in permitting include:

  • Requiring sufficient information for the government to make an informed decision. This information should include the past mining history of the company and its plan for local employment. Such information is vital for the government to make an informed decision before issuing a permit.
  • Requiring the approval of other government bodies responsible for environmental protection.
  • Guaranteeing that First Nations and all British Columbians are given some degree standing in the permit decision-making process.

This section discusses the legal requirements associated with the application for, and issuance of, a mine permit and suggests ways in which BC should strengthen its mining regime.

  1. Mine Permit Applications
  2. Amendments, Renewals and Transfers
  3. Criteria for Evaluating Mine Permit Applications


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