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Ministry of Energy Mines and Responsible for Core Review

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR A PERMIT APPROVING THE MINE PLAN AND RECLAMATION PROGRAM PURSUANT TO THE MINES ACT R.S.B.C. 1996, C. 293 (March 1998)

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

MINING REGIONAL OFFICES

 

1. INTRODUCTION

2. ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS

2.1 Process Overview
2.2 Application Stage
2.2.1 Review Process
2.2.2 Mine Plan and Reclamation Program Information Requirements
2.3 Project Report Stage
2.3.1 Review Process
2.3.2 Mine Plan and Reclamation Program Information Requirements for the Project Report

3. APPLICATION FOR A MINES ACT PERMIT APPROVING THE MINE PLAN AND RECLAMATION PROGRAM

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Major Mine Permit Application Information Requirements
3.3 Mines Act Permit Application Submission, Review and Approval
3.4 Regional Mine Development Review Committees
3.5 Distribution of Major Mine Applications
3.6 Public Consultation
3.6.1 Advertising and Gazetting
3.6.2 Enhanced Public Consultation under the Mines Act Review Process
3.7 Communication with First Nations
3.8 Mine Standards
3.9 Mine Reclamation Costs
3.10 Permit Amendments
3.11 Contaminated Sites Legislation Requirements Province of British Columbia

LIST OF TABLES

2.1-1 Summary of Reviewable Mining Projects Under the Environmental Assessment Act and their Size Thresholds  (PLEASE NOTE: This table was last updated on March 29, 1999.)

LIST OF APPENDICES

APPENDIX I: Recommended Table of Contents / Information Checklist for an Application to Obtain a Mines Act Permit Approving the Mine Plan and Reclamation Program
APPENDIX II: Publication Notices - Application for New Mines Act Permit Approving the Mine Plan and Reclamation Program
APPENDIX III: Publication Notices - Application for Amendment to Mines Act Permit Approving the Mine Plan and Reclamation Program
APPENDIX IV: The British Columbia Gazette - Insertion Rates for Notices, Deadlines and Publishing Schedules
APPENDIX V: Contaminated Sites Legislation - Schedule 1 - Site Profile
APPENDIX VI: Mines Act and Code References for Mine Plan (Work System) Approval
APPENDIX VII: References

MINING REGIONAL OFFICES

 

Use the clickable map below to access contact information for the Regional Office of your choice. Any permit application inquiries should be directed to the Regional Manager.

 

 

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1. INTRODUCTION

 

The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of the Province’s requirements for the approval of mining projects with respect to the Mines Act R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 293 (Mines Act) and its accompanying Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia (Code). Both are administered by the Mining Operations Branch of the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

 

In addition, this document describes the Mines Act and Code information required during project review under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) to ensure smooth transition of mining projects to permitting.


2. ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS

 

The following is primarily comprised of excerpts from information published by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), including:

  • ‘Summary of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act’ (May, 1997);

  • ‘Overview - An Update on the Environmental Assessment Process’ (February, 1997);

  • ‘Quickfacts’ - 1 through 8 (May, 1997); and

  • ‘Guide to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Process’ (May, 1997).

Additional information on the EA Process and specific projects under review is also available at http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca.

 

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2.1 Process Overview

 

The EAA was proclaimed on June 30, 1995. It replaced the Mine Development Review Process and applies to new mine developments (or modifications to existing mines) meeting threshold criteria established under the EAA. Table 2.1-1 provides a summary of EAA threshold criteria. Proposed mining developments which meet or exceed the threshold criteria of the EAA require a Project Approval Certificate under the Act prior to issuance of a Mines Act Permit.

 

The EAA establishes a single, comprehensive provincial review and approval process. It is intended to provide a means of identifying potential effects of major projects and an evaluation of opportunities to prevent or mitigate impacts. Key legislated requirements of the EAA include:

  • an Environmental Assessment Office to administer the Act;

  • an extensive requirement for public participation throughout the review process;

  • filing of all documents on a Project Registry available for public review;

  • Project Review Committees from provincial and federal ministries, local governments, First Nations and, possibly, representatives from neighbouring jurisdictions which may be affected by a proposed project;

  • time limitations for reviews;

  • opportunities for integration of permitting and licensing with the review process; and

  • opportunities for independent public hearings for controversial projects.

There are three possible stages in the Environmental Assessment Process:

1. Application,

2. Project Report and Review, and

3. Board Hearing (typically for controversial proposals).

Most projects will go through a two stage process of assessment.

 

TABLE 2.1-1: Summary of Reviewable Mining Projects Under

the Environmental Assessment Act and their Size Thresholds

(PLEASE NOTE: This table was last on updated March 29, 1999)

 

Project Category

New Facility Threshold

Facility Modification Threshold

 Coal Mines

Any new mine with 250,000 tonnes of clean and/or raw coal1 production/year.

Existing reviewable-scale mine with either 50% or more increase in area of mining disturbance, or 750 ha or more new disturbance.

Mineral Mines

Any new mine with 75,000 tonnes of mineral ore production/year.

Existing reviewable-scale mine with either 50% or more increase in area of mining disturbance, or 750 ha or more new disturbance.

Sand and Gravel Pits

Any new pit with 500,000 tonnes of sand and/or gravel production/year or 1,000,000 tonnes over 4 years.

Existing reviewable-scale pit with 35% or more increase in area of mining disturbance.

Placer Gold Mines

Any new placer operation with production of 500,000 tonnes of pay-dirt/year.

Existing reviewable-scale operation with 35% or more increase in area of mining disturbance.

Construction Stone & Industrial Mineral Quarries

Any new quarry with production of 250,000 tonnes of quarried product/year.

Existing reviewable-scale operation with either 50% or more increase in area of mining disturbance, or 750 ha or more new disturbance.

Off-shore Mining Activity

Any mineral exploration or production which disturbs the foreshore or sea floor in salt water.

Any modification of an existing operation.

1"Raw Coal" means coal which is transported from a coal mine without having been processed in a coal preparation plant.

 

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2.2 Application Stage

 

2.2.1 Review Process

 

Figure 2.2-1 illustrates the major steps in the Environmental Assessment Process. Although the Environmental Assessment Process is set out in discrete steps, the proponent is encouraged to contact and work with government and First Nations frequently during preparation of submissions.

 

The first step involves the proponent’s submission of an Application for a Project Approval Certificate to the Executive Director of the Environmental Assessment Office. The Executive Director screens the Application to ensure that it is complete and acceptable for review. If the Application is accepted, the Executive Director establishes a Project Committee.

 

The Project Committee reviews the application and considers comments from the public and other interested agencies. Based on this review, the Project Committee then recommends to the Ministers of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the Minister of Environment that the project be approved or rejected, or requests a detailed Project Report from the proponent.

 

2.2.2 Mine Plan and Reclamation Program Information Requirements

 

For issues related to the mine plan and reclamation program under the Mines Act, the Application stage of the review process focuses on:

  • issue identification; and

  • capacity for mitigation.

The Application should include a reclamation feasibility assessment which outlines any potential problems and the capability for their resolution through mine facility design and construction, environmental protection, and reclamation. Proposed study programs which will be undertaken in order to develop the reclamation program should also be outlined in this document.

 

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2.3 Project Report Stage

 

2.3.1 Review Process

 

If a Project Report is requested, draft specifications are developed by the Project Committee. These specifications are placed in the Project Registry and referred to the proponent, other government agencies, First Nations, and are made available for public comment. The draft specifications are then finalized, filed on the Project Registry and provided to the proponent.

 

The Project Report is screened by the Environmental Assessment Office Executive Director and the Project Committee to determine if it has met the specifications provided from the Application review. If the report is accepted for review, it is filed on the Project Registry for public review and comment. The Project Committee reviews the Project Report considering comments from the public, and then makes a recommendation to the Ministers whether a Project Approval Certificate should be issued.

 

Steps in Environmental Assessment Process (Figure 2.2-1)

 

The Ministers review the application and recommendations, and decide whether or not a Project Approval Certificate should be issued. At this stage, the Ministers may decide to send the project for a public review by the Environmental Assessment Board. If a Project Approval Certificate is issued, the project is authorized to proceed, but must still obtain all permits, licenses and approvals required under applicable Acts.

 

The proponent may opt to file permit applications concurrently with the Project Report and the applications must be reviewed within the same time frames as the Project Report. Where a concurrent Mines Act permit application has been made, the Mining Operations Branch must inform the Project Committee and the proponent of a decision within 30 days after issuance of the Project Approval Certificate.

 

2.3.2 Mine Plan and Reclamation Program Information Requirements for the Project Report

 

The Project Report should address all items required for the Mines Act permit application (Appendix I). This will provide for a more efficient use of the review process, as well as for more timely permitting of the mine plan and reclamation program.

 

Baseline information should typically be provided at the level of detail described in Appendix I. This improves the efficiency of the information collection process; and ensures that adequate information is collected to address reclamation/environmental concerns. This also helps avoid delays in permitting mine development activities, as much of the baseline information must be collected prior to ground disturbance.

 

The proponent should submit a mine plan and reclamation program detailed enough to assure technical reviewers that the proponent has the necessary understanding, resources, technical capability and intent to develop the mine in a safe and environmentally sound manner, and that there are no major issues or concerns which have not been addressed or cannot be adequately mitigated. The most important issue is often the potential for acid rock drainage and metal leaching (ARD/ML), which requires considerable information at the Project Report stage. Results of the ARD/ML assessment frequently affect materials handling practices, which in turn determine probable impacts on water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

 

Other key information items which should be included in the mine plan and reclamation program components of the Project Report are:

  • pre-mine land uses and proposed end land use objectives;

  • pre-mine land capability or productivity and proposed post-mine capability or productivity objectives for all significant land uses. This information is required to create the proposed reclamation program and is used as yardsticks for measuring reclamation success;

  • plans for characterizing the soils and overburden resource for reclamation purposes (if not already complete);

  • plans for salvaging, stockpiling and replacing soils and other suitable growth media;

  • consideration of future erosion and mass wasting for long-term stability;

  • treatment of structures and equipment;

  • resloping and reclamation of waste dumps;

  • reclamation of watercourses;

  • pit reclamation, where applicable;

  • sealing of underground workings;

  • tailings impoundment reclamation;

  • road reclamation;

  • pre- and post-mine trace element concentrations in soils and vegetation;

  • the general composition, size, shape and location of all consolidated and unconsolidated geological units disturbed by the project;

  • prediction of the geochemical performance of the various geological units in the forms in which they will be exposed, and a determination of the potential for deleterious effects (ARD/ML guidelines available from the Mining Operations Branch1);

  • determination of disposal and remediation methods, their effectiveness, and quantity or area requirements;

  • determination of monitoring requirements for extraction, waste handling and disposal operations;

  • determination of the time to onset of acid rock drainage or metal leaching in materials for which there is a delay in the application of remedial measures;

  • programs for prevention, treatment and control of acid rock drainage and metal leaching;

  • toxic chemical disposal;

  • environmental monitoring;

  • preliminary characterization of surficial and bedrock materials for geotechnical assessments;

  • preliminary design of ore/coal processing facilities;

  • preliminary design of tailings impoundment facility (guidelines are available from the Mining Operations Branch);

  • preliminary design of waste rock dumps (guidelines available from the Mining Operations Branch);

  • preliminary design of pits and underground workings;

  • preliminary design of access roads (refer to Mining Operations Branch guidelines and Forest Practices Code);

  • preliminary design of water storage facilities; and

  • preliminary design of other significant transportation or utilities infrastructure.

The reclamation program presented in the Project Report should be consistent with the mine plan. The Project Report should also demonstrate that proper mine and reclamation planning will be in place during the pre-mine and initial construction stages to ensure that reclamation can occur progressively during mining, and be completed at closure.

1 ‘Guidelines for Metal Leaching and Acid Rock Drainage at Minesites in British Columbia’ (Price and Errington, 1998) and ‘Manual of Recommended Methods for the Prediction of Metal Leaching and Acid Rock Drainage at Minesites in British Columbia’ (Price, 1998)

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3. APPLICATION FOR A MINES ACT PERMIT APPROVING THE MINE PLAN AND RECLAMATION PROGRAM

 

3.1 Introduction

 

Two types of applications can be made to obtain a Mines Act Permit:

  • Exploration and Small Mines - A ‘Notice of Work’ (NOW) is filed with the Mining Operations Branch District Manager for coal or mineral exploration programs and for approvals of placer mining, or sand and gravel pits and quarries in accordance with Parts 6.1.1, 6.1.2 and 10.1.1 of the Code.

  • Major Mines - A detailed ‘Mine Plan and Reclamation Program’ must be submitted to the Mining Operations Branch Regional Manager for proposed coal or hardrock mineral mines, major expansions or modifications of producing coal and hardrock mineral mines, and large pilot projects, bulk samples, trial cargoes or test shipments. Information requirements for these applications are summarized in Parts 6.1.2, 6.1.3, 6.1.4, 6.1.5, 9.1, 9.2 and 10.1.2 of the Code, in various geotechnical guidelines, and described in detail in Appendix I of this document. Mines Act permit applications are required whether or not proposed developments fall under the EAA.

Permit applications for projects under the EAA may be submitted concurrently with the Project Report;however, a Project Approval Certificate must be obtained prior to Mines Act permit issuance. No work is permitted on a mine site without a valid Mines Act Permit.

 

3.2 Major Mine Permit Application Information Requirements

 

In general, the information requirements under the Code for a Major Mine Mines Act permit application include the following:

1. a map or airphoto showing the location and extent of the mine;

2. particulars of the design, construction, operation and closure of mine components, taking into consideration the safety of the public, mine workers, and the protection of the environment;

3. particulars of the nature and present uses of the land to be used for the mine;

4. particulars of the nature of the mine and the extent of the area to be occupied by the mine;

5. a program for the protection and reclamation of the land and watercourses during the construction and operational phases of the mining operation;

6. a conceptual final reclamation plan for the closure or abandonment of the mining operation;

7. an estimate of the annual cost of outstanding reclamation obligations over the planned life of the mine including the cost of long-term monitoring and abatement; and

8. any other relevant information that may be required by an Inspector.

Appendix I contains a Table of Contents/Information Checklist which outlines those items which must be addressed in a Major Mine permit application (or amendment) in compliance with the Code. This Table of Contents is based on the Code requirements, and should therefore serve as a checklist, modified as necessary to suit the particular mine plan and reclamation program.

 

In addressing applicable information items listed in Appendix I, the proponent should ensure that:

  • the mineral resource is extracted to the maximum feasible extent;

  • the pre-mine environment is adequately characterized to enable determination of whether or not various reclamation objectives have been met at closure;

  • the key conditions for reclamation success are created - i.e. appropriate waste rock dump and tailings design, and soil salvage and replacement;

  • acid rock drainage and metal leaching, and other impacts to the receiving waters are prevented; and

  • plans allow for proper plant and equipment decommissioning and salvage.

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3.3 Mines Act Permit Application Submission, Review and Approval

 

Review sequences and procedures for Mines Act permit applications are summarized in Figure  3.3-1 and are described as follows:

  • The District Manager processes Exploration and Small Mine applications. Applications normally undergo a 30 day inter-agency review, and sensitive projects are referred to the local Regional Mine Development Review Committee (RMDRC) (refer to Section 3.4). If appropriate, a permit is issued following completion of the review period, with conditions based on review comments.

  • The proponent of a Major Mine application meeting Environmental Assessment Act threshold criteria is advised of this fact and is referred to the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), where the Project Director assigned to the project will provide the proponent with further direction. Ministry of Energy and Mines staff, as well as representatives of other provincial and federal agencies, local governments and First Nations then become members of the Project Committee established to review the project.

  • Major Mine applications for Certified projects, projects undertaking concurrent permit applications within the EAA, and modifications for existing mines which do not trigger the EAA (i.e. projects which have undergone prior major environmental reviews) are circulated to the RMDRC for review and comment for a maximum of 60 days, as required under Part 10.3.2 of the Code. The Chief Inspector of Mines (Chief Inspector) issues a permit following resolution of outstanding issues to the satisfaction of the Committee, and including special conditions based on Committee review comments. Public and First Nations consultation is required as described in Sections 3.6 and 3.7, below.

  • Major Mine Major Mine applications for new mines which do not trigger the EAA undergo an informal "approval-in-principle" process which is essentially the same as that formerly legislated by the Mine Development Assessment Act, and upon which the Environmental Assessment Act Process was modeled. Under this process, proponents are asked to first submit a prospectus level document for RMDRC review. The RMDRC may recommend approval "in principle" based on the prospectus review or may require that additional information be submitted before allowing the proponent to proceed to permitting. This process of reviewing new projects at a conceptual level prior to permitting ensures that both proponent and reviewer resources are not wasted on detailed design and other work based on development concepts which may be unacceptable to various RMDRC members.

Summary of Mines Act Permit Review Sequences (Figure 3.3-1)

 

Major Mine permits are normally issued with provision for reassessment following five years (or earlier if there are significant mine plan changes or other extenuating circumstances). Submission of an annual mine plan and reclamation report is required as a standard permit condition to update reviewers on the project status and compliance.

 

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3.4 Regional Mine Development Review Committees

 

The RMDRCs include representatives of other government agencies - both federal and provincial - who may be affected by the proposed mine plan/reclamation program. First Nations (and local government) may also be invited to be members of the RMDRCs, as described in Section 3.7 below. The RMDRC is legislated under the Mines Act and normally includes many of the same government agency technical reviewers involved in the Project Committees for proposals which have been reviewed under the Environmental Assessment Act. As such, RMDRC members reviewing Mines Act Permit applications for projects Certified under the EAA will normally already be very familiar with these proposals.

 

The proponent may be offered one or more opportunities to make presentations and/or meet with the RMDRC during the review period. The review process is intended to be iterative, whereby modifications to a proposal may be made based on review comments and discussions between Committee members and the proponent.

 Mines Act Mines Act permits generated following RMDRC and public reviews are normally circulated to the Committee members and the proponent in draft form for final comments prior to finalization.

 

3.5 Distribution of Major Mine Applications

 

Part 10.1.2 of the Code requires submission of sixteen (16) copies of the Mines Act Permit application. The number of copies actually required may vary however, depending on the location and complexity of the proposed mine development. The applicant should contact the Regional Manager to determine the number of copies required by the RMDRC. These copies should be forwarded to the Regional Manager, who will distribute them and coordinate the review.

 

In all cases, three (3) copies of the application should be forwarded directly to:

 

Manager, Reclamation and Permitting
Mining Operations Branch
Ministry of Energy and Mines
P.O. Box 9320, Stn Prov Govt
6th Flr., 1810 Blanshard Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8W 9N3

 

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3.6 Public Consultation

 

3.6.1 Advertising and Gazetting

 

Pursuant to Part 10.2.1 of the Code, an applicant for a Mines Act Permit may be required to publish a ‘notice of filing’ application in the B.C. Gazette and in local newspapers. This is a discretionary decision by the Regional Manager (Chief Inspector’s delegate) and is usually required for new Mines Act Permit applications or significant proposed revisions to the mine plan or reclamation program of an existing mine. Where advertising/gazetting is determined to be necessary, at least two copies of the Mines Act Permit application must be made available in the local library(ies) for the duration of the review period.

 

Form letters for use in publishing in the Gazette and local newspapers are provided in Appendices II (new permits) and III (permit amendments). Appendix IV contains the pricing, deadlines and publishing schedules for the B.C. Gazette, but proponents should contact the Gazette for the most up-to-date information. Proof of publishing must be provided by forwarding tear sheets from the Gazette and newspapers to the Manager, Reclamation and Permitting (see address above), and copied to the Regional Manager. A review period of 30 days following publishing is required to allow for responses from any person affected by, or interested in, the application before a permit can be issued.

 

3.6.2 Enhanced Public Consultation under the Mines Act Review Process

 

At the discretion of the Mining Operations Branch Regional Manager or the Manager, Reclamation and Permitting, a Major Mine application may be required to undergo an ‘enhanced’ Mines Act review process involving a greater level of public consultation. In addition to the normally required advertising and gazetting, public consultation may include:

  • holding one or more open houses in local communities;

  • invitations to representatives of public interest groups which have indicated an interest in a mine proposal to make presentations to and/or attend RMDRC meetings pertaining to the project;

  • establishment of a public liaison committee to review the proposed mine development and/or monitor mine development through construction, operations and closure. Concerns/conclusions of public liaison committees are presented to the RMDRC’s for consideration in approvals and permitting, and key government agency representatives. Mining Operations Branch and Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP) representatives normally sit on both committees.

Although consultation requirements vary from project to project, the objective is to ensure that all stakeholders receive adequate information regarding projects within their communities, and have the opportunity to register their views and have their questions answered.

 

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3.7 Communication with First Nations

 

A broad function of the Mines Act permit review process is to complement the Province of British Columbia’s stated desire to foster its relationship with First Nations. In the context of the EA Process, the Province is approaching this goal in two main ways:

  • inclusion of First Nations whose traditional territory encompasses, or is near, the proposed project as full and equal members of project review committees (as mandated by the Environmental Assessment Act);

  • through the project review committees, to identify areas where projects can, in the long term, have more positive than negative effects on First Nations (Provincial policy).

A narrower, but extremely important function of the assessment process, is to determine through consultation with First Nations whether aboriginal rights exist within the project area, and the extent to which they may be infringed by the proposed project. Any unjustifiable infringements will likely require compensation, mitigation or avoidance of those infringements.

 

For more information in relation to First Nations interests in major projects, proponents should review the ‘Guide to the EAP’ noted in Section 2 above, or contact the Environmental Assessment Office directly at (250) 356-7479.

 

First Nations may now be involved in the review of proposals not meeting the EAA thresholds through participation as full and equal members of the RMDRC’s. RMDRC’s meet and conduct reviews for projects throughout each region. First Nations would be involved only in those meetings and reviews associated with projects which could potentially affect their rights. Proponents may be required to conduct additional consultation with First Nations in relation to RMDRC reviews - particularly where the First Nations involved have opted not to participate in the RMDRC reviews.

 

3.8 Mine Standards

 

Compliance with health, safety and reclamation standards will be a condition of every Mines Act Permit. However, specific clauses are added as appropriate, based on specific site conditions and various technical review requirements.

 

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3.9 Mine Reclamation Costs

 

The Ministry security policy for any mine in British Columbia seeks to provide ‘reasonable assurance’ that government funds will not be used for mine reclamation. For new mines, the policy is to set the reclamation security annually at a level which reflects all outstanding decommissioning and closure obligations existing at that time. Consideration is also given to costs associated with public health, safety, reclamation, maintenance, long-term treatment and monitoring requirements.

 

A detailed projection of reclamation costs, including provisions for long-term monitoring, maintenance, and mitigation of environmental impacts, is required in an application for a Mines Act permit. Preliminary costing may be required for the EAA Project Report, however requirements for this would be specified in the review comments for the Project Application document These costs could be a major consideration in project permitting, and may play a key role in any economic feasibility assessment. At a minimum, detailed costing should be provided for the first five years of mine operation, the projected point of maximum reclamation liability during the life-of-mine, mine closure, and following mine closure. In the case of particularly long lived mines, costing projections may also be requested for every fifth or tenth year through the projected life of the mine.

 

At the request of the applicant and where sufficiently justified, cost projections and any other financial information required by the Chief Inspector may be submitted in a separate confidential report.

 

The Ministry has produced a generic spreadsheet in an effort to ensure consistency in reclamation cost projections. Information and/or copies of the spreadsheet may be obtained by contacting the Mining Operations Branch, Victoria.

 

3.10 Permit Amendments

 

A Permit issued pursuant to Section 10 of the Mines Act approves the mine plan, reclamation program, and any associated design reports. As mine and reclamation plans change, applications for amendments to the Mines Act Permit are required as per Part 6.1.5 and in accordance with Parts 6, 9 and 10 of the Code. Each "Amendment to Permit" is attached to the Permit and becomes an integral part of it.

 

The requirement to submit an updated Mine Plan and Reclamation Program every five years is normally a condition of a Mines Act Permit. These updated plans - also frequently called ‘Permit Renewal Applications’ or ‘Closure Plans’- are referred to the RMDRC in the same manner as the original Mines Act Permit application. The new Permit issued following Committee review is titled an ‘Amended Permit’, and contains the applicable conditions of the previous Mines Act Permit, applicable conditions of previous Amendments to Permit, and any additional conditions determined to be necessary based on RMDRC review. The ‘Amended Permit’ becomes the applicable Mines Act Permit, and supersedes all previous permits.

 

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3.11 Contaminated Sites Legislation Requirements

 

Mines in British Columbia are regulated under Contaminated Sites Legislation which came into effect on April 1, 1997. The amendment of the Waste Management Act, 1993 provides the definition of a contaminated site, instruments used to establish a site’s status, the setting of remediation standards and procedures, and the determination of liability. It also contains regulations to manage a site registry, collect fees and establish protocols.

 

The Waste Management Amendment Act, 1993 also amends Section 10 of the Mines Act and prevents the Chief Inspector from approving an application for any permit, or for revisions to the conditions of an exiting permit, unless a "site profile" (Schedule 1 form - attached) has been submitted to the District Inspector. A site profile is also required at the time the owner, agent or manager presents, in writing, a notice of intention to stop work, in, on, or about a mine prior to abandonment under Part 10.5.1 of the Code. Site profiles are a new mechanism for the province to screen potentially contaminated sites and requires readily available information.

 

A site profile is not required if:

  • one has already been filed on the site registry under section 8 of the Contaminated Sites Regulation and the information in sections II to X of that site profile accurately reflects the person’s current knowledge about the mine site.

  • an industrial or commercial purpose or activity found in Schedule 2 of the Contaminated Sites Regulation is not occurring or has not occurred on the site.

  • the mine is an industrial mineral mine or a sand and gravel operation.

  • the mine is in whole or in part a coal, metal, or placer mine producing 10,000 tonnes of ore or less annually. Persons undertaking mineral exploration are therefore exempt from the duty to provide a site profile.

The District Inspector is responsible for reviewing site profiles, and either notifying the person who provided the information if it is not satisfactorily completed, or forwarding a copy of the satisfactorily completed site profile to the site registrar within 15 days after receiving it.

 

Site Investigations

 

The District Inspector has 15 days following receipt of a site profile, to notify the person who provided the site profile and request a preliminary site investigation including a report of the investigation prepared in accordance with section 58 of the Contaminated Sites Regulation.

 

The decision to request a preliminary site investigation is based on the Inspector's evaluation of the site profile. If the Inspector suspects the mine site or a part of the site contains substances (contaminants) not covered under the applicable Mines Act permit, which may cause, or threaten to cause, adverse effects on human health and the environment, then a preliminary site investigation will be requested.

 

However, even if the site is contaminated, immediate remediation may not be required if the contaminated site does not present an imminent and significant threat or risk to health or the environment. In this situation, clean-up of contamination at the mine will generally occur at closure.

 

Site investigations are designed to identify contaminants, quantify concentrations, and determine spatial extent and mobility. Results from site investigations determine if a site is a contaminated site, and if so, provide the basis for developing remediation plans which may include control, containment, treatment or removal.

A detailed site investigation (section 59 of the Contaminated Sites Regulation) can be undertaken without first doing a preliminary site investigation. How a person proceeds will depend on the level of knowledge of the site and previous testing and work already completed.

 

Fees

 

There are fees associated with the review of site investigations, remediation plans, and inspections and approvals. Fees are authorized under section 9 of the Contaminated Sites Regulation. And described in Schedule 3.

 

Follow-up to Site Investigation

 

After the site investigation and report are completed, the person undertaking the site investigation must submit a copy of the report together with a completed Contaminated Sites Services Application Form and the applicable fees, to the Regional Waste Manager, MELP, as well as submitting the report to the Regional Manager, Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Depending on the outcome of a site investigation, an estimate of liability and an assessment of the need and priority for remediation will be determined. There are often several techniques which can be used to clean up a site. Criteria for evaluating these techniques include effects on human health and the environment, technical feasibility and risks, and remediation costs and economics.

 

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