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

Search and Rescue needs more funds to finish new facility

Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue Group meets at Ranger Park building but have outgrown the space.

VIDEO: Smithers get its first augmented reality sandbox

Locals got to experience a bit of augmented reality last Wednesday

A diabetes information session will be held this Friday

Smithereens will get a chance to learn more about type I and type II diabetes this week

Kanna Kurihara leads Otters in Prince George

Kanna Kurihara, 10, turned heads at the meet with superb technical abilities in 100 freestyle win.

Wintergold weekend

One of the oldest Christmas craft fairs in Smithers is this Friday and Saturday.

Man linked to Shuswap farm where human remains found to appear in court

A rally will be held on the Vernon courthouse steps prior to Curtis Sagmoen’s appearance

B.C. snow plow operator helps save elderly man

The 73-year-old man had fallen at his isolated home, and finally was able to call for help

Wildlife group challenges B.C.’s interpretation of law on destroying bears

Fur-Bearers are challenging a conservation officer’s decision to kill a bear cub near Dawson Creek

Tourism numbers continue to climb in B.C.

The majority of international travellers to British Columbia are coming from Australia

Canadian screen stars want ‘action’ from industry meeting on sexual misconduct

‘Of course there’s been sexual harassment here. Absolutely. No question.’

VIDEO: Search for missing B.C. dog walker remains a ‘rescue effort’

Annette Poitras was last seen walking three dogs on Monday afternoon

Accused in violent Kamloops burglary charged with attempted murder

Accused in violent Kamloops burglary, home invasion charged with attempted murder; victim remains in hospital

Cannabidiol products available in Summerland

Products contain medical benefits of cannabis, but with no psychoactive properties

Most Read