B.C. tightens oversight rules for mining after tailings-pond collapse

VICTORIA -- The British Columbia government is imposing more oversight on the mining industry by boosting potential penalties for prosecutions to $1 million in fines and three years in prison.

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The new regulations emerge from recommendations in separate reports after the collapse of the Mount Polley tailings dam in B.C.'s Interior, which spilled millions of tonnes of mine waste into area waterways.

The province has been limited under the Mines Act to shutting down a mine by cancelling its permit, issuing a stop-work order or pursuing prosecutions, but the changes will now allow for monetary penalties to be imposed without going to court.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett says the changes provide his ministry with more tools for compliance and enforcement, to build an even safer and more sustainable industry.

Bennett says his goal is to ensure the province has a regulatory regime for health and safety on mine sites that is the best in the world.

After the failure of the Mount Polley tailings dam in August 2014, the chief inspector of mines ordered a third-party review of all similar operations and found no immediate safety concerns.



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