Amendments, Renewals and Transfers
After application and approval, the life-cycle of a permit includes three stages: Amendments, Renewals and Transfers.
Over the long lifespan of a mine, if a proponent wishes to have its mine permit conditions revised, it must apply to the Chief Inspector who has broad powers and discretion to change or impose additional conditions.
BC’s laws do not provide sufficient details on:
- when a mine permit amendment must be sought.
- what the Chief Inspector must consider in his or her evaluation; and
- the extent of the consultation that must take place before the decision.
The amendment process could be changed, for example, to reflect the material changes of a mine, such as mine expansions and amending mine permits when necessary for environmental protection.
In BC, all plans and reclamation programs associated with the mine must be reviewed every five years to account for changes. This new permit is called an ‘amendment permit’ and it supersedes all previous permits.
Even BC’s forestry legislation requires that on expiry, replacement permits may only be granted if the regulatory authority is satisfied with the applicant’s performance or conditions of the permit. A similar provision is missing from BC`s mining laws.
BC law lacks the specific requirements for a Chief Inspector to follow when deciding whether or not to grant a mine permit renewal application. Specific conditions, such as considering the proponent’s past performance and history of compliance should be adopted.
Because changes in mine ownership are common, it is important that successive owners are bound by the same obligations as the original proponent. While BC mining laws require a new owner obtain a permit before starting mining activities, the transfer process fails to specify factors for the Chief Inspector to consider. In addition, new owners are not held liable for newly acquired mining operations.
In BC, there are no legal provisions that mandate the public interest be taken into account when making a decision on a mine permit transfer application.