British Columbia government creates new divisions to improve mine safety and promote investment

Michelle Mungall, BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources announced this week it will now have two expanded mining divisions: the Mines Health, Safety and Enforcement Division and the Mines Competitiveness and Authorizations Division.

The Canadian province is resource-rich, and home to Vancouver, the mining junior capital of the world.

In a press release, the Ministry said that the new departments were created following recommendations received from the Mining Jobs Task Force. The idea is that the units, of which the establishment will cost the province $20 million over three years, manage resources aimed at improving mine safety for workers while encouraging investment and job creation with a more efficient approval process.

“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,” Minister Michelle Mungall said in the media statement. “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.”

30 additional positions will be created in 2019-2020 in the two new divisions.

According to Mungall, the Mines Health, Safety and Enforcement Division will include a greater number of mines inspectors and a new auditing function to increase industry safety. There will also be a new compliance, auditing, and effectiveness monitoring team within the division and it will be in charge of providing independent oversight.

When it comes to the Mines Competitiveness and Authorizations Division, the minister said its objective is to promote increased investment in the province’s mining sector through an improved and properly resourced approvals process.

“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,” Edie Thome, president and CEO of the Association of Mineral Exploration, said in the media brief.

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