Environmental Groups Call for Major Overhauls to B.C.'s "Dated" Mining Regulations

Environmental activists banding together at a BC Mining Law Reform demonstration on Wednesday, May 15th. (Supplied by Wildsight)

Wildsight believes that "B.C.'s mining laws don't keep our waters safe" and wants to ensure that mining companies, like those in the Elk Valley, are kept accountable.

22 environmental activist groups from across the country, including the East Kootenay's Wildsight, alongside the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club BC, Amnesty International, and more, have formed a coalition group called "BC Mining Law Reform."

Wildsight's Conservation Director Lars Sander-Green says they are advocating for 10 total changes to mining laws and regulations in B.C., but are focusing on three in particular.

One is to "Protect our waters and communities from toxic mine waste", as the group believes that "B.C. should ban dangerous mine waste dams that threaten communities and watersheds, and generally prohibit mines that will require perpetual treatment of contaminated water."

Second is to respect so-called "no-go zones" and the input of both local residents and First Nations that inhabit the land a mine is proposed to be built on.

Finally, Sander-Green wants to ensure mining companies and their shareholders pay to clean up all the environmental damage they cause.

"We've seen fines in the Elk Valley for significant water pollution that equals a few minutes of Teck's profits and that's not going to be effective in changing anyone's behaviour. It's like if you gave someone a speeding ticket and it was like 10 cents - it's not going to make a difference. It's a slap on the wrist."

The groups comprising BC Mining Law Reform held a demonstration outside of the BC Legislature on Wednesday to formally call for these changes and others to be implemented.

Sander-Green says there are some indications that the province might potentially budge on areas like mine reclamation bonding and the rights of First Nations when it comes to mining.

He and the other participating groups will continue to work on some of their more long-term goals in this regard, although Sander-Green did not elaborate on what those would be.

More information on BC Mining Law Reform and a related petition can be found on their official website here.

Summit 107 has reached out to Teck for comments, but we have not heard back from them at the time of publication.

Audio: Lars Sander-Green, Conservation Director, Wildsight

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