ONE ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER TO ANOTHER!
BC has along way to go to demonstrate responsible environmental, social and governance practices in the mining sector! In response to the article; Province launches 'roadmap' to improved social licence for mining! published in the Vancouver Sun March 15, 2021
Quote from Province Launches: “With metals needed for renewable energy in demand, B.C. adds to its sales pitch for the province as a good place to invest.”
Quote from Province Launches: “…minerals in demand for renewable energy projects…”
Are we just moving from one environmental disaster to another?
Mr. Ralston needs to review the 150-year-old BC Mining Laws and the BC Governments Environmental oversight (B.C. Auditor General’s Report (2016)) as he proclaims they have Improved Social Licence and that BC is a good place to invest; Here’s a good place for him to start!
BC Mining Law Reform Network has outlined a way forward for the BC Government to improve its Social Licence; BC Mining Law Reform (www.reformbcmining.ca)
Protect our waters and communities from toxic mine waste.
Respect no-go zones, and decisions by local residents and First Nations.
Ensure mining companies and their shareholders pay to clean up all the environmental damage they cause.
Quote from Province Launches: “… B.C.’s sales pitch as a competitive, innovative and responsible place for mining investment as part of a post pandemic economic rebound…”
BC is not innovative in protecting the environment from damaging mining practises. The mining laws are nearly as old as the 1867 Constitution Act nor is BC acting as a socially responsible place for mining investment!
Ever since the Mt Polley tailings dam failure of 2014 the Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake (CCQL), a local community group of residents living on the Lake – the epicentre of the worst mining disaster in Canadian History, has been pressuring the BC government to improve its archaic laws and lack of responsible oversight in mining!
There has been no resolution to the problems that resulted in the tailings dam failure or the pollution of Quesnel Lake and the issues of inadequate water treatment continue.
Quesnel Lake, once described as” Pristine”, is being used to dilute untreated mine wastewater; the mine has a pipeline discharging mine waste into the Lake; Mt Polley Mine is requesting permission (by way of permit amendment) to bypass the treatment plant (which is simply a filtration plant) and discharge directly into Quesnel Lake. Hardly innovative! There is no social benefit or license for condoning this behavior!
British Columbia is the perfect province to set the example on how the Mining Industry and a healthy environment can co-exist.
We need employment in the small communities across the province to recover from the economic slowdowns and pandemic shutdown. However, NOT while small communities and Indigenous peoples compromise clean water, clean air and beautiful forests to do it?
The communities directly impacted by the Mt Polley tailings dam failure 7 years ago, are still living with the impacts and uncertainty of what has happened to the once pristine Quesnel Lake.
There are many examples in the province of BC showing how mining is not environmentally friendly and the BC Government and Industry has NOT done a good job click here.
BC has over 173 coal and metal mines where a significant amount of ore was extracted (i.e., over 300,000 tonnes if production ceased before 1985, or over 10,000 tonnes if production ceased during or after 1985). The map specifies whether mines are proposed (16), operating (17), in care and maintenance (17), closed/abandoned (84), or historic sites that are being redeveloped for further mining (39). Only 2 of the 173 sites on the map are demonstrated to pose no current water contamination threat.
Quote from Province Launches: “…seize the moment for British Columbia mining”….. renewable energy projects, such as copper, said Ralston.”
Quote from Province Launches: “…Ralston said. “The regulatory programs will sort that out. We pride ourselves here, I think, in British Columbia on a well-regulated sector, and that’s an advantage with investors.””
BC’s outdated regulatory processes cannot be relied upon to protect our environment. BC has a long way to go to demonstrate responsible environmental, social and governance practices to earn social licence for their investors.
Minister Ralston, along with the Minister of Environment and the Premier, have to focus not only on the immediate economic benefits of mining in BC, but also on how to mitigate their ongoing negative environmental impacts (just look at all the mining legacy projects that the BC taxpayer will be paying to clean up) Start the process now by immediately enacting the recommendations in 2016 BC Auditors Report and the BC Law Reform platform. This will provide a real Social License, that protects BC for the present and future generations in a sustainable way.