B.C.’s mineral exploration laws are progressive – by Gavin Dirom (Vancouver Sun – February 21, 2013


Far from being ‘antiquated,’ regulations have been updated as recently as July 2012

Gavin C. Dirom is the president and chief executive officer of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC).

The mineral exploration and development industry in British Columbia has continually evolved, changing its practices and updating regulations in both reasonable and practical ways based on sound facts and information.

Industry’s approach is in contrast to the incomplete set of facts and fearmongering it sees from some special-interest groups with a narrow agenda. A recent Vancouver Sun opinion piece by Sarah Cox from Sierra Club B.C. and Jessica Clogg from West Coast Environmental Law is the latest example. The Jan. 30 article contained a disappointing number of errors and omissions about B.C.’s mineral exploration laws and the industry today.

Consider their description of B.C.’s mineral tenure legislation as “antiquated,” and from the 19th century. In fact, B.C.’s Mineral Tenure Act and Regulations were significantly amended in 2005 and again in July 2012. These laws are regularly updated and considered a model for other jurisdictions around the world. Moreover, converting mineral tenure to a mining lease is very far from an automatic process. It is a modern and highly regulated process based on common sense — and it’s already in place.

And contrary to Cox and Clogg’s statements, the principle of free entry has not been “abolished” anywhere in Canada. Had the authors reviewed the regulations more carefully, they would have also clearly seen that mineral claim holders do not have the right to explore on land occupied by a dwelling or building or land under cultivation.

Those rules were established last century because they make good sense. As well, readers should know that it was the Association for Mineral Exploration BC that requested government to provide notification to new mineral claim holders of First Nations traditional territory. This measure has helped members of AME BC to properly identify local First Nations and engage their communities in a respectful manner.

Further, as part of B.C.’s permitting process, First Nations must be consulted before low-impact mineral exploration activities can take place on their asserted traditional territories.

This is known as the Notice of Work permitting process and exploration programs are only approved by government after consultation with First Nations.

Perhaps also not widely known, the mineral exploration and mining industry is the largest private-sector employer of aboriginals in B.C., not to mention in Canada. By establishing partnerships and building mutual understanding, the industry is creating real and lasting capacity in First Nation communities throughout B.C. This was done in the absence of any new law or government directive, because it was the right thing to do, not to mention modern and progressive.

For the rest of this column, please go to the Vancouver Sun website: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/exploration+laws+progressive/7999267/story.html

The Sarah Cox/Jessica Clogg JANUARY 30, 2013 column (Update B.C. mining law to bring it into this century): http://www.vancouversun.com/business/2035/Update+mining+bring+into+this+century/7889860/story.html

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