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Audit sees improved ministry mine oversight in B.C.

Audit sees improved ministry mine oversight in B.C.

VICTORIA—The Province of British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation announced June 21 it is implementing policies and procedures for the mining sector to address matters previously identified by the Office of the Auditor General with some exceptions.

A new report by the auditor general pointed to a series of regulatory and structural changes made by the ministry including the establishment of a new investigations unit, processes to write mine permits with more enforceable language, and enhancement of compliance and enforcement procedures and policies.

“The ministry has made progress since our 2016 audit. Overall, the ministry’s improved oversight means it’s better equipped to address risks associated with the mining sector while the provincial economy receives benefits from mining activity,” Auditor General Michael Pickup said in a statement.  

The report found the ministry “has established a consistent approach to address serious incidents and has set up an internal audit unit to evaluate the effectiveness of the ministry’s regulatory framework for mining,” a government release stated.

The report also introduced a reclamation security policy for major mines to reduce the difference between liabilities and securities held to ensure reclamation obligations are met, and establishment of an abandoned mines branch to ensure risk mitigation for public safety and to address environmental risks at abandoned mines.

The report also recommended the ministry ensure all environmental disciplines have a process to consistently monitor major mines for compliance with reporting requirements and formalize geotechnical inspection procedures to support consistent inspections.

The audit finds a few areas for further improvement. For example, the ministry needs written procedures for geotechnical inspections, a consistent approach to reviewing reports from mine operators throughout the year, and a risk-based approach to address environmental concerns at abandoned mines, Pickup said.

The ministry has accepted all recommendations and the full report can be read here.

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