British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

"Moving mountains and goalposts –- how do you know when you've reached the goal?" : regulatory perspectives of mine reclamation success Moody, Anne; McConnachie, Jennifer


The Mines Act (1969) and the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in BC (Code) governs standards for all types of mine reclamation in BC. The Code specifies a number of reclamation requirements, including; soil salvage, re-contouring of disturbed surfaces, erosion control, reestablishment of land capability and productive capacity, ecological risk assessment, and monitoring programs to document success. Regulators are often questioned about the changes in interpretation of the Code requirements (i.e. “moving goalposts”). As in most natural sciences, there are no hard and fast rules in reclamation. Each mine and reclamation plan is as unique as its geographic location (i.e. playing field). This means that the rules of the game (i.e. intent of the code) must be interpreted by the referees (i.e. inspectors) according to site and mine design specifics. As the game (i.e. knowledge of the reclamation process) evolves, so do the rules. The Ministry of Energy and Mine’s (MEM) current interpretation of the rules (i.e. reclamation guidelines) is aimed at ecological restoration. Our approach is informed by site conditions and allows proponents to develop their own game-plan, with guidance from MEM. Baseline ecological assessments and objectives for restoring the land to its pre-mining capability (i.e. the rules) enable proponents to place their project on an ecological restoration track for success. Proponents will be tasked with defining monitoring programs and measures for determining revegetation success (i.e. the team decides where the goalposts are placed). The referees oversee the game for fairness and determine when the goal line is crossed. This move toward a team effort in reclamation holds promise of greater certainty for all parties and will hopefully make finding the goal line easier.

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