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

Port Alberni soapbox derby has new track

Lower Argyle Street will be open to racers under six

Vehicle catches fire near China Creek Marina

No injuries in blaze, according to witnesses

North Island College issues brief statement on bomb threat

Threat forced college to close all campuses for one day

Premier wades into fishery closure debate

John Horgan questions the federal government’s approach

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Exotic corpse flower begins to emit is putrid scent at Vancouver conservatory

A unique and exotic tropical plant, acclaimed for its size and abhorred for its smell, is blooming at a Vancouver conservatory.

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in June were down 10.7 per cent compared with a year ago.

Tens of thousands give heroes’ welcome to Croatia team

Euphoria gave way to a mixture of disappointment and pride for Croatia fans after their national team lost to France in its first ever World Cup final.

VIDEO: Firefighters put out brush fire in Nanaimo

Fire broke out in the area of a new development under construction in East Wellington

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Most Read