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Aberdeen claim shows why Mineral Tenure Act needs update
How many readers are aware that, earlier this year, a mineral claim was staked within the city?
On May 18, Mineral Tenure Claim #1019608 was staked in lower Aberdeen.
It is 20.49 hectares in size and is approximately centred in the Howe Road playground/dog-walking park at the intersection of Howe Road and Pacific Way.
It extends across developed and undeveloped land, with one of the boundaries running beneath Kamloops Seniors’ Village.
Was the City of Kamloops consulted?
Should the city have been consulted?
Not according to the B.C. Mineral Tenure Act.
The call to review B.C.’s Mineral Tenure Act originally came from Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne in her compelling letter to the Victoria Times-Colonist on April 12.
Following her lead, the Union of BC Municipalities voted on Sept. 19 to support a resolution calling on the provincial government to modernize the Mineral Tenure Act.
The act was amended in 2005 and in 2012.
A close examination of the act, however, reveals that, in spite of these amendments, there is nothing that requires prior approval from any local community within a certain radius of a proposed claim before a mineral claim is registered.
This is the issue.
As we are experiencing with the proposed Ajax copper and gold mine, once a mineral claim-holder decides to develop a claim, there is a lengthy environmental-assessment process.
Yes, the community has input into the environmental assessment.
But, in the end, it is the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office that makes a final recommendation to the provincial Minister of the Environment, who then makes the decision on whether the project goes ahead.
Three other provinces — Ontario, Quebec and Alberta — have amended their mineral-tenure acts or are in the process of doing so.
Bill 43 is the current effort in Quebec to see changes made to its Mining Act.
The following amendment shows the kind of change needed in B.C.:
“The bill amends the act respecting land-use planning and development to allow regional county municipalities to delimit any mining-incompatible territory or any conditionally mining-compatible territory in their land-use and development plan”
It is imperative the B.C. government amend its Mineral Tenure Act to require mineral claims to be approved by municipal, regional and First Nations’ governments before they are registered.