B.C. auditor general says province doing poor job monitoring mines

A aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014. The pond which stores toxic waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break on Monday spilling its contents into the Hazeltine Creek causing a wide water-use ban in the area.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VICTORIA - A two-year study by British Columbia's auditor general gives the province a failing grade on protecting the environment from potential disasters in the mining industry.

Carol Bellringer says the mines audit was already underway in August 2014 when the tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine in central B.C. collapsed, spilling millions of cubic metres of silt and waste into nearby lakes and rivers.

Her extremely critical report on compliance and enforcement in B.C.'s mining sector says almost all the expectations for government compliance are not being met.

She highlights major gaps in the ministries of energy and mines and environment, citing too few resources and insufficient staff.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett said in a statement that his ministry has accepted all 43 recommendations from the report and that business as usual at B.C. mines sites just isn't good enough.

However, Bellringer says the government has rejected her calls for the creation of an independent mining compliance office to keep watch on the industry.

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