Groups call for ‘clear, enforceable’ mine waste-dam laws – by Gordon Hoekstra (Vancouver Sun – November 3, 2015)

Environmental coalition calls on B.C. government to phase out industry self-regulation

The B.C. government should phase out industry self-regulation to ensure dams that hold back waste and water at mines are safe and sustainable, says a joint submission by environmental groups.

The Fair Mining Collaborative, Mining Watch Canada and Northern Confluence (an arm of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign) are also calling for the province’s review of mining rules to be broadened by examining all laws that regulate mining, including the Mines Act, Environmental Management Act and Water Act, not just the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines.

Their submission is the first look at the type of changes that are being called for by outside groups as the B.C. government responds to Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley catastrophic tailings dam collapse last year and recommendations from an expert geotechnical engineering panel it commissioned.

In an 111-page submission, the Fair Mining group called for the province to phase out industry self-regulation by integrating clear, enforceable language in legislation, and by creating an independent review board to oversee the management of all mine waste (also called tailings) storage facilities in British Columbia.

While the province retains an inspection and oversight role, it chiefly relies on the professional judgment and sign-off by engineers on mine dam design and maintenance.

The Fair Mining group’s submission was among 10 from environmental groups which did not get a seat on the review panel set up by he province.

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