British Columbia launches web platform for mine inspection and safety information
British Columbia’s mining ministry has a new, user-friendly portal for documents and information about mines in the province.
The website, BC Mine Information, first went live on April 19. As of mid-June, the site hosted inspection reports from 2013 to 2016 for metal, coal and industrial mineral mines that are currently operating in the province.
Information is also available for some mines that have closed or moved into care and maintenance. Dam safety information for 70 mines, originally made available online last year, also moved over to the new website.
The website features a map showing each mine’s location and a sortable and searchable table that lists each project by name, region and status.
“Following the Mount Polley dam failure, we recognized the need to improve our records management systems and committed to implement a system that was more readily accessible to the public,” Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said in a statement to CIM Magazine. “I think this new web-based system delivers on that commitment, providing easier access and greater transparency to permit information, inspection reports and other details about mines in British Columbia.
“Moving forward, we will continue to refine and improve this system and populate it with more information.”
The University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre filed a complaint with the provincial privacy commissioner in 2014 alleging that the provincial government broke freedom of information law when it did not release environmental assessments and dam inspection reports about Mount Polley after the incident. In July 2015, the commissioner found that the ministry’s actions were not illegal and re-interpreted B.C.’s privacy and freedom of information legislation, removing a requirement for making information public only in “urgent circumstances.”
Feedback about the site has been positive, according to a ministry spokesperson, and may help build public confidence in the mining sector.
The ministry believes the information may be useful to industry, government staff, academic researchers and even private citizens who want to learn more about nearby mine sites
Traffic data for the new site was not available.
According to information provided by the ministry, new information about decisions and penalties will be posted on an ongoing basis.
– Kate Sheridan