The Province of British Columbia is considering reforming mining laws. As a result, 30 organizations are calling for independent enforcement and enhanced transparency. The groups are advocating from more inclusion of the indigenous population in various roles of overseeing approved projects in the territories.
Reviewing mining operations in British Columbia
The provincial administration should fund indigenous groups led by the Indigenous Guardians in overseeing mining operations in their lands. This is a recommendation to Michelle Mungall the minister of Mining, Energy and Petroleum Resources by the Mining Law Reform Network. The proposals from the 30 organizations are part of the recommendations on the proposed amendments to the Mines Act.
The reform network indicates that the Act has done little in protecting the communities and environment in British Columbia from mining risks. The province of British Columbia is a hive of mining activity and major mining companies in Canada operate mines in the province. Some of the companies with operations in British Colombia include the gold mining company New Gold Inc. (NYSEAMERICAN: NGD), Teck Resources Ltd (NYSE: TECK) and Newmont Goldcorp (NYSE: NEM).
The non-profit reform network group founded in spring aims at addressing problems resulting from the lack of implementations and weak mining laws. The advocacy group is calling for more transparency when it comes to environmental monitoring as well as instituting reformist penalties and fines. They propose that Indigenous enforcement and monitoring programs need strengthening and also independent monitoring.
Guardians to receive training on various skillsets
However, the community program will have to train their monitoring staff so that they can collect credible information that can guide management decisions. Tahltan First Nation member Allen Edzerza indicated that they have engaged officials on the possibility of training indigenous monitors in British Columbia with different skills. They intend to have monitors trained on mining, forestry and wildlife resources so that they can be aware of regulations in the different sectors.
The group wants to borrow what is happening in other territories. They have drawn parallels with the Alberta’s Peace-Athabasca Delta Ecological Monitoring Program and the Northwest Territories’ Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency. The involvement of communities in mine monitoring and management is advantageous as it helps in developing information gathering protocols and training of staff to collect data locally that is vital in decision making and management.
Why indigenous guardians are important in mine monitoring
Canada is witnessing a proliferation of indigenous guardians in communities. They are aiding the programs that conduct environmental monitoring and protection of land. The guardians are boots on the ground that oversee mine issues such as leaching and other problems requiring monitoring and compliance. It makes sense to use indigenous guardians because they are next to mine which makes monitoring and enforcement easier.
Also, this is an affordable way of conducting monitoring and also the best way of ensuring mining projects comply with regulations. The guardians being from the local communities are the ones impacted and thus they will have community interests at heart.