VICTORIA, B.C. – B.C.’s Auditor General said almost all of their expectations for a compliance and enforcement program of the mining sector weren’t met.
Along with 16 distinct supporting recommendations, this report recommends that B.C. create an integrated and independent compliance and enforcement unit, and calls for taking out the mining sector compliance and enforcement program from the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
“The compliance and enforcement activities of both the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and the Ministry of Environment are not set up to protect the province from environmental risks,” said Carol Bellringer, B.C.’s Auditor General.
Major gaps were found in resources, planning and tolls in both ministries, meaning both ministries don’t have enough staff to address a growing number of permits, and staff have to work with ‘cumbersome and incomplete data systems.’
Additionally, some mining companies have not provided government with enough financial security deposits to cover potential reclamation costs if a mining company defaults on its obligations.
According to the province, it’s underfunded by over $1 billion and that debt could fall on taxpayers.
Given the sheer scale of mining in B.C., and because the environmental impacts of mining can last forever, the report emphasizes the critical need for regulatory enforcement, as the environmental risks of mining are increasing, but compliance and enforcement are decreasing.