Auditor General Blasts 'Major Gaps' in BC's Mining Oversight
Responsibility to regulate industry should be removed from ministry, finds scathing report.
To avoid more disasters like the 2014 failure of the tailings pond dam at Mount Polley mine, responsibility for regulating mining in British Columbia should be taken away from the ministry that also promotes the industry, concludes a new report from the province's auditor general.
"[The Ministry of Energy and Mines'] role to promote mining development is diametrically opposed to compliance and enforcement," wrote Carol Bellinger in the 109-page report "An Audit of Compliance and Enforcement of the Mining Sector."
"This framework, of having both activities within [Energy and Mines], creates an irreconcilable conflict," she said. "Because compliance and enforcement is the last line of defence against environmental degradation, business as usual cannot continue."
Work on the audit was already underway when the Mount Polley disaster happened, causing the damaging release of some 25 million cubic metres of wastewater and tailings from the Imperial Metals mine 56 kilometres northeast of Williams Lake.
"We noted the same issues in the Mount Polley file as we did throughout the audit," Bellringer said. "That is, too few resources, infrequent inspections, and lack of enforcement."
The ministry failed to "ensure that the tailings dam was being built or operated according to the approved design, nor did it ensure that the mining company rectified design and operational deficiencies," the report found.
Go to the link above to read the complete report.