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New resources to help mining sector in B.C. thrive

Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, stands with members of the mining industry. — flickr.com

In recognition of Mining Day at the B.C. Parliament Buildings, new resources were announced that will improve mine safety for workers and the environment, while encouraging investment and job creation with a more efficient approval process.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources will now be home to two expanded mining divisions: the Mines Health, Safety and Enforcement Division and the Mines Competitiveness and Authorizations Division. This supports recommendations from the Mining Jobs Task Force released earlier this year.

“We are putting additional resources in place to enable more frequent inspections and upping enforcement to keep mines safe, for workers and for our environment,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “At the same time, we have a more efficient and predictable permit approval process, to encourage investment and get new projects built without unnecessary delays.”

The Mines Health, Safety and Enforcement Division will include a greater number of mines inspectors and a new auditing function to increase industry safety. The division’s priorities will be focused on health, safety, compliance management and enforcement activities. A new compliance auditing and effectiveness monitoring team within the division will function as an independent oversight unit.

The Mines Competitiveness and Authorizations Division will promote increased investment in B.C.'s mining sector through an improved and properly resourced approvals process. This will help position B.C. as an attractive jurisdiction for investment by focusing on regulatory certainty, social acceptance, Indigenous reconciliation and partnerships, innovation, world-class geoscience and leading environmental standards. 

“The Mining Association of BC (MABC) is pleased to see the government’s commitment to address some of the competitiveness challenges facing the mining industry,” said Lindsay Kislock, vice-president, corporate affairs, MABC. “MABC has continually advocated for an adequately resourced system that functions with clarity, consistency and co-ordination. This advocacy was echoed in the recommendations from the Mining Jobs Task Force, which acknowledged that competitiveness challenges facing the mining industry must be addressed.”

“The provincial government’s increased investment will create significant new opportunities for B.C.’s mining sector,” said Michelle Laurie, staff representative with the United Steelworkers and B.C. Mining Jobs Task Force member. “The Province’s commitment to attract and retain women and Indigenous peoples in the workforce is a step forward for people who have traditionally been under-represented in the mining industry.” 

“A year ago, the Mining Jobs Task Force was formed, and we have reached consensus on how to strengthen this vital resource industry through a comprehensive set of actions,” said Edie Thome, president and CEO of the Association of Mineral Exploration. “Through our discussions with First Nations, industry, stakeholders and people working in mineral exploration and mining throughout B.C., we gained a sense of what was needed and are pleased to see the necessary resources being committed to deliver in the latest budget.”

The Province is investing $20 million over three years to support these changes, which help foster a healthy, thriving and responsible mining sector with high-paying jobs. The ministry is creating 30 additional positions in 2019-20 in the two new divisions, with up to 35 additional positions added next year and the year after.

The two new divisions support the B.C. Mining Jobs Task Force’s recommendation that government should improve industry safety and oversight by providing the ministry with additional resources over the next three years to ensure continuing mining regulatory excellence and increased efficiency.