What was this engagement about?
Historically, water use for prospecting did not require an authorization from the Province and over time mineral exploration and small-scale placer mining were considered prospecting. This changed in 2016 with the narrow definition of prospecting under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA), and individuals undertaking these activities became subject to the requirement to obtain an authorization to use water.
In light of existing permitting requirements under the Mines Act, temporary rules were enacted to allow the use of unrecorded (available) water for mineral exploration and small scale placer mining activities without a WSA authorization, subject to new restrictions to protect the environment.
In fall of 2018 government released an intentions paper proposing regulations that would continue to allow the use of unrecorded water for mineral exploration and small-scale placer mining activities subject to new provisions to protect the environment.
This was followed by a What We Heard and Next Steps document in October 2019 that summarized the feedback received, provided additional information about the proposal and outlined new proposed provisions. Written feedback and discussions with Indigenous groups, environmental non-profit organizations, industry representatives and members of the public informed the proposal to update to the Water Sustainability Regulation (WSR).
On December 17, 2019, temporary provisions in place since April 2016 under section 56 were updated and replaced by provisions under section 34, which include new provisions to protect the environment, other authorized water users and cultural heritage resources. Some of the new provisions include the option to require an authorization if there is a risk of potential impacts to a stream, other authorized water users, or cultural heritage resources. The provisions also clarify the use of water for camps associated with these activities.
More information about the Water Sustainability Act and the new regulations can be found on the Province’s water webpage. To learn more about permitting for mineral exploration and placer mining activities, visit the Mineral Exploration and Mining website.
How will my contribution make a difference?
The What We Heard document indicates how public input helped shape revisions to the original proposal.
Details of the Consultation:
Date: October 9 to November 26, 2018