March/April 2011

Eye on Business

Streamlining the permitting process: Getting B.C. mines into operation quicker

By Ministry of Natural Resource Operations

The new streamlined permitting process will help B.C. mines enter into production faster | Photo courtesy of B.C.’s provincial government

Our identity as Canadians and British Columbians is tied to our forests, mountains, rivers, coastlines, farmland and abundance of natural resources. With increased economic activity on the land, more complex environmental pressures and more crossover between sectors, there was an urgent need for a more integrated approach to managing British Columbia’s land base. That is why the B.C. government created the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations – to deliver efficient, informed integrated land-management services to British Columbians.

By bringing all of the decision-making activities on the land – from permitting to First Nations consultation to wildlife management – into one ministry, the province now has a 360 degree view of the land base and can make better decisions more efficiently. Integrated decision-making will provide opportunities and certainty for significant project development while ensuring strong environmental management under a single land manager.

What does this mean for the mining industry? Mine projects require many authorizations and in the past, this meant going to multiple ministries. Now, instead of having nine different agencies and approximately 40 different statutes governing over 1,200 different types of authorizations issued by multiple natural resource ministries, there is one ministry to coordinate all of these activities.

To streamline the permitting processes, the province is implementing a “one project, one process” approach across British Columbia. By bundling permits together, the ministry can consult and process the applications once rather than multiple times, as in the past. Resource experts from each region are working in a more integrated way, finding efficiencies and creating greater flexibility in how sector-based decisions are made.

Through the provincial Major Projects offices and FrontCounter BC, applicants will have access to assistance to fully understand information and application requirements for both small and large mining projects.

“One project, one process” means not having to wait for one authorization to be processed before applying for the next permit. It means that the government will process the application efficiently and the client will not have to help it through the system. It also means the client will have many of their authorizations issued as a package, so they can put shovel to ground immediately after the Mines Act permit decision is made.

The province continues to work with the federal government to harmonize federal-provincial processes in order to apply the “one project, one process” approach to all authorizations involving the use of land in British Columbia.

B.C.’s provincial government has put policies in place that have helped give the minerals sector the resilience to withstand the economic downturn: $322 million was spent in 2010 on mineral exploration in the province. This represents the third-highest total in B.C.’s history and a 109 per cent increase on the $154 million spent in 2009.

The provincial government is committed to supporting mining in B.C. Creating the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations is a significant step towards ensuring that decisions around mining projects are made in an efficient, consistent manner that balance the environment, economy and natural resources.

The B.C. Ministry of Natural Resource Operations delivers integrated land-based management to ensure economic prosperity and environmental sustainability in the province.

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