More than 30 different groups across the province are calling on the BC Government to change the way mining is done.
Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, Ugo Lapointe said the BC Mining Law Reform Network that launched this week in Victoria is composed of community groups, expert groups, environmental organizations, and First Nations.
“This network understands that we need minerals for our society,” he said.
“We need metals to transition to a clean economy but we also need to make mining cleaner and there’s a lot of ongoing issues.”
LaPointe said that includes the Mt Polley discharge of mine wastewater into Quesnel Lake.
He said while the Province has undertaken some actions and improvements, overall there is still a lot of work to do.
“The Network includes three overarching priorities that all the groups agree to work on and collaborate with the government to work on,” he said.
“The first priority is to better protect communities and waters from mine waste and mine wastewater discharge. The second priority is to apply the polluter pay principle where companies and their shareholders should be asked to pay to clean up their mess and their mining waste and pay for the appropriate technology and the best practices that exist to ensure the protection of waters and the environment. The third priority is to give a say to respect no go zones and decisions by local residents and local indigenous communities about which places make sense to have a mine and do not make sense.”
The formation of the Network coincides with the release of a video which MiningWatch said is the first video showing the ongoing water pollution of Quesnel Lake by the Mt. Polley Mine.
“This is something that the Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake that live around the lake want to stop,” Lapointe said.
“They are very concerned about the ongoing pollution, but also future pollution in the context of financial problems with the company and the upcoming closure and going into care and maintenance. It increases uncertainties, it increases the risk with not only the mine waste that is still sitting at the bottom of the lake from the 2014 spill but now the ongoing discharge from those two pipelines.”
The Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake according to Lapointe were supposed to be going to the Environmental Appeal Board this week in Victoria to challenge the Ministry of Environment’s decisions to allow the discharge. He said Imperial Metals, however, dumped almost ‘thousands of pages’ of new material to consider as part of the appeal.
“They also asked for a permit amendment to the Ministry of Environment because they’re going into closure and maintenance all of which made it impossible for both the Citizens group and their experts and lawyers, and the Appeal Board to digest before this scheduled hearing,” Lapointe said.
“So now those hearings have been delayed. We have no date yet of when they will happen, but our expectation is they will be within the next three to four months.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to support the Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake in their efforts.