Blog Post #25 – Proposed Mineral Exploration and Small Scale Placer Mining Regulatory Provisions: What do you think?



Historically, water use for prospecting did not require an authorization 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.

Government is now proposing to make those temporary provisions a permanent part of the regulations, and has released an intentions paper for public comment.

In addition to the existing restrictions to protect the environment, the proposed rules would provide an engineer or water manager with the authority to require an individual to obtain an authorization to use water in circumstances where there is a risk of significant adverse impact to the stream or to other authorized users.

Pending a public consultation period and government review and approval, the proposed provisions would be incorporated into regulation in 2019.

We invite you to share your thoughts about the intentions paper by leaving a comment below or sending an email to livingwatersmart@gov.bc.ca. Comments will be accepted until November 26, 2018.

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3 responses to “Blog Post #25 – Proposed Mineral Exploration and Small Scale Placer Mining Regulatory Provisions: What do you think?

    User avatar
    [-] Jill

    I am 100% in agreement with the proposed modification to the WSA.
    The volume of water used for these activities is small & returns quite rapidly to the ecosystem. Given the small volumes utilized, the value back to the Crown for water fees, when weighed against Gov’t administrative costs, is negligible.
    Additionally, water use authorizations issued under the WSA require defining a point of diversion & are not set up to handle multiple points of diversion, which are often modified in the field, which is what is required for most mineral exploration projects.
    It also makes no sense to have 2 regulatory agencies overseeing the activity, as this is a significant waste of Gov’t resources particularly given the cost of conducting field inspections in remote areas. Mine inspectors conduct regular inspections of mines, including water use systems. To have a Water Officer inspecting the same site is redundant & expensive.

    User avatar
    [-] Reed

    Make the temporary restrictions on water use for mineral exploration and small-scale placer mines permanent. Mining operations should continue to be required to seek authorization to use water –
    any water – during prospecting operations. With or without drought.

    User avatar
    [-] Rob

    The problem I see with making the proposed exemptions permanent is the the lack of reporting or tracking of that water use for mineral exploration or small scale placer mining.
    If the limits and conditions in the regulation are NOT followed the water managers have no means of tracking these water users even though they would have the authority to require persons to obtain an authorization if they consider diversion or use of water may have a significant adverse impacts.

    Protecting small first order streams and small wetlands are the key to healthy watersheds and receiving waters so it is important to be able to identify a risk to these streams for public scrutiny and to take enforcement actions as needed.

    An authorization for these uses does not have to be onerous or expensive if the application and tracking is implemented correctly. Tracking and monitoring the location and scope of exploration/placer water use is very important. I think these water use situations cannot be ignored because they are considered “not that significant” – they can be very significant if best practices are not followed.