In 2012 the The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas (now the Ministry of Energy and Mines) committed to exploring cost-recovery options to ensure that the Mines Fee Regulation and the permitting process remained timely and efficient. In order to develop and implement a sustainable funding model for permit fees, the Ministry undertook extensive consultation with both the public and stakeholders. In February 2014 the Mines Act Permit Fees Discussion Paper was released for commenting on the proposed revisions to the permit fee structure.
February 21, 2014 – March 31, 2014
Throughout the public consultation 477 written comments were submitted, consisting of 188 emails and 289 letters, 428 of those were unique respondents; this is lower than the 477 as numerous respondents submitted multiple letters. Ministry staff also fielded many individual inquiries by phone throughout the consultation period.
The 188 emails that were received came from a variety of sources including individual miners and prospectors, medium-and-large scale mines and mineral exploration companies, sand and gravel quarries, aggregate producers, geoscientists and consulting geologists, ministry staff, mining associations, community members, small businesses, and local governments.
The 289 letters were composed of 264 form letters and 25 unique letters. To learn more about the feedback and specific suggestions that were received throughout the consultation on the Mines Act, please see the Mines Act Permit Fees Consultation Summary Report from May 2014.
The most common concern that was heard was that the low-end fees – affecting small-scale miners, placer miners, and prospectors – were prohibitively expensive and could negatively impact the smaller exploration and placer miners in BC. The other major concern that was raised was how the fee categories would be determined, the original Ministry proposal was to base the fees on area of disturbance, a number of submissions suggested that alternative approaches should be considered that better reflected the costs associated with the exploration or placer program. For example, fees based on activities may better reflect the scale and costs of a program.
In addition to the responses received, ministry officials met with numerous industry representatives, including the:
- Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia
- Mining Association of British Columbia
- BC Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
- Placer Miners Association of British Columbia
- East Kootenay Chamber of Mines
- Smithers Exploration Group
Input leads to action:
As of 2015 the fee structure was revised as a direct response to feedback received during this consultation. The new fees will enable government to assign the proper resources to provide the services that are needed and to ensure a timely permitting model is maintained.