Mine Permit Applications
BC Mining Issue:The lack of minimum mine permit conditions, coupled with the Chief Inspector’s broad discretion, creates inconsistent environmental and social protection from mining activities across the province.
Fair Mining Best Practice:Specify minimum mine permit conditions and attach conditions from other government agencies.
In BC, the Chief Inspector of Mines has discretion to exempt even large-scale mining operations from the requirement to obtain a min permit. However, the law does not provide any guidance on how the Chief Inspector should exercise this discretion.
Possible solutions to this legislative gap could follow jurisdictions, such as Arizona and California, where permits are required for all large-scale mines.
Content of A Mine Permit Application
The required content of a mine permit applications is an area where legislative change is needed. This is because the information that is currently required does not, for example, include adequate baseline data nor require a description of land-use productivity or a plan for promoting local employment.
A full list of the information that must currently be included in a mine permit application can be found here
Without this information, it is often difficult for the government to make informed decisions about the potential economic and environmental consequences of the proposed mine. Informed decisions are also hampered by the current lack of clarity during the consultation at mine permit application stage.
While the Chief Inspector must take into consideration comments submitted by the public, First Nations and other government agencies, BC law does not specify precisely which factors must be taken into account when to issuing or denying a mine permit application.
BC’s mining laws no not explicitly require government to consult with First Nations in mine permit application reviews – consultation is only referred to in non-binding policy documents.
Due to the high likelihood of wide-ranging social and environmental impacts from mining, it important to have all affected government agencies, First Nations, and the public meaningfully review and engage in the mine permit application process.
Possible solutions to these deficiencies include:
- Notifying other government bodies of mine permit applications.
- Holding public information sessions during the government’s review of mine permit application.
- Notifying and consulting with First Nations on mine permit applications.
In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the provincial government owed a legal duty to consult with the Haida people before transferring timber licenses. The same rule is equally applicable to the mining industry. First Nations peoples must be engaged in the review of applications that may impact their rights.