Since the May 2016 publication of the BC Auditor Generals Report- An Audit of Compliance and Enforcement of the Mining Sector, much has been made of the apparent lack of financial security to cover the reclamation liability costs.
The audit illustrates the importance of a compliance and enforcement program. However the Auditor suggest that this program needs to " parented" by different government bodies. How can a government ministry expect to promote mining, while ensuring that the mining industry in BC is complying with standards and then enforce the standards if they are being breached. It's as if they could be playing ' good cop/ bad cop" all in one industry.
How can a ministry be expected to enforce permits and rules without the tools to do so.
The audit states that provincial goals for the mining industry make it impossible for the Ministries to focus on anything else other than permits. It suggests that some permits are weak in their enforceable language and that there is little enforcement of the " Polluter Pays Principle".
The Auditor General Group did review the August 2014 Mount Polley Mine Dam Breach.
" We found that the ministry did not ensure that the tailings dam was being built or operated according to the approved design, nor did it ensure that the mining company rectified design and operational deficiencies. The Ministry continued to allow the mine to operate and to approve permit amendments to raise the tailings dam".
Among the reasons for allowing this situation, the audit suggests that a lack of inspections and adequate standards for inspectors to follow did not meet policy. The Ministries appear to be using a more collaborative approach to enforcement and although they have the ability to compel a mine to take corrective actions, that this was not used for Mount Polley.