I AM RESPONDING to another legal case focusing on inadequate mining regulations and practices, the most recent is the Mt. Polley tailing’s pond breach just filed in Provincial Court in Williams Lake.
I believe our laws and regulations must be upheld and enforced. This is the only way that we can protect communities and the environment and lead to better, safer, more responsible mining in the future.
What is the point of having regulations and laws if governments and industry are not held accountable when they are violated? Kamloops residents should be more than a little concerned, after the provincial Auditor General recently confirmed the compliance and enforcement regime in charge of regulating the mining industry in our province as inept, inadequate, and conflicting.
The B.C. Auditor General’s report concluded that the Ministry of Energy and Mines’ compliance and enforcement activities of the mining sector are inadequate to protect the province from significant environmental risks.
To date, the Provincial Government has arbitrarily ignored the recent recommendation of Auditor General’s 106-page report, released in May, that mine oversight in B.C. should be independent of the government ministry that issues permits and promotes mining investment, which is an obvious conflict of interest.
With an obvious failed regulatory regime, which is still in place, the City of Kamloops cannot afford the risks that KGHM/Ajax Mine poses unless there
are fundamental changes to the current regulatory system, along with serious consequences for not following the law. A catastrophe similar to Mt. Polley spill, affecting a city of 90,000 residents, would be a disaster of epic proportions.
In my recent letter to Premier Clark (Aug. 12), I requested that the government suspend the permitting process for the Ajax Mine until two fundamental flaws are rectified; the unnecessary proposal of a massive wet tailing’s pond dam in the hills directly above the City of Kamloops, and the failure to implement the Auditor General’s recommendation that the oversight of mining in B.C. should be independent of the government ministry that issues permits, and promotes mining investment, which is an obvious conflict of interest.
The facts above suggest to me that the B.C. Liberal government’s lack of consideration for the uniqueness of B.C.’s first ever urban mine along with the policies on the Ajax mine approval process, are such, that they should alarm even the most avid proponents, including the most apathetic in the public. This flawed urban mine proposal and the current application process indicate a practice that is fundamentally opposed to the notions of fair process and justice held by Canadians.
Last week, residents of Malartic filed a request for an injunction along with a class action law suit regarding the adverse effects from the huge urban mine operating in their backyard. Now we see another legal claim regarding the negative effects to the environment, properties, and citizens from the Mt. Polley disaster.
These issues display the fact that mining companies regularly violate their conditions, our regulatory bodies do not protect the public as companies ignore the conditions of their permit, and the public suffers significant costs to their value of their homes and quality of life.