Construction of tailings impoundment facility now in operation at Red Chris mine south of Dease Lake in northwestern B.C.

Mine inspections beefed up in B.C.

Premier Christy Clark says budget increased $6 million to create new office for major mine regulation in wake of Mount Polley failure

The B.C. government is moving to restore confidence in its mine inspection system with a $6 million budget increase and a new office dedicated to overseeing major mines.

Premier Christy Clark announced the changes Monday at the annual B.C. Association for Mineral Exploration conference in Vancouver. The money comes from contingency funds in the current budget, and will be added to the base budget of the Ministry of Energy and Mines for future years.

Mine inspections have been under scrutiny since the collapse of the tailings dam at Mount Polley copper-gold mine near Williams Lake last summer. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett at first insisted that geotechnical inspections of large B.C. mines were unaffected by budget cuts that reduced inspections of gravel mining and other operations, but Monday’s announcement tells a different story.

“Since 2011, we’ve made significant improvements to increase geotechnical inspections, hire additional staff and reduce the turnaround time for notice of work permits,” Bennett said in a statement after the premier’s announcement.

NDP leader John Horgan said the premier’s announcement appears to be in preparation for what he expects will be “a very damning report” on the Mount Polley situation, which is subject to multiple investigations after the earth dam around its tailings pond abruptly breached and released millions of tonnes of water and mine tailings.

Horgan said it’s unusual for any government to fund essential work like mine inspections out of contingency funds, and he’s not convinced that it really has been happening. The government refused opposition calls to release all provincial mine inspection records, instead appointing an independent expert panel to review the Mount Polley events.

Bennett visited Alaska in November to reassure state officials and fishermen about B.C. mining oversight, after the province issued an environmental certificate to develop a major metal ore deposit near the Alaska border.

The ministry expects to collect an extra $3 million a year from additional fees collected from working mines.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Accident closes Hwy 22 near Castlegar

Highway not expected to reopen until Sunday.

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Castlegar pastors find life in wheelchair a challenge

The men found the obstacles were both physical and mental.

Columbia Avenue paving scheduled for weekend

Paving on Castlegar’s main thoroughfare will take place in a few days, weather permitting.

Tour company plans shuttle service to Kelowna for stranded travellers

SMT Kootenay wants to help travellers get in and out of ‘Cancelgar’ in winter months

Josie Hotel will be ready on opening day, says management

West Kootenay’s first ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel to open this month

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read