The Urgent Need to Modernize BC’s Mining Regulation

They may have functioned in the 1800’s, but it’s time for BC’s 19th century Gold Rush laws to change.

Damage from mining can permanently poison entire watersheds, exterminate fish, poison shellfish, deform birds and fish, destroy riparian areas (needed for fish habitat and flood control), and endanger human health. Poorly regulated and aging mining infrastructure pose a dangerous risk to people and property. It also threatens industries that rely on a clean environment, and it has proven to be a huge hit to the public pocketbook.

On behalf of the Fair Mining Collaborative, the ELC has asked BC’s Premier to establish a Commission of Public Inquiry to investigate and report on the province’s regulation of the mining industry and to make recommendations to improve BC mining regulation. Nineteen conservation, community, health and First Nations organizations wrote letters to government asking for the establishment of a Judicial Commission (listed below).

Over the past decade, the ELC and other organizations have called on the provincial government to improve mining laws and regulations. Even the Auditor General of BC has weighed in with a critical report on the provincial enforcement of mining laws.

The public needs a Commission process to ensure BC’s mining industry is properly guided and regulated to ensure safe mining activity that protects human health and causes the least damage to the environment. The current system not only risks fish, birds, humans and the ecosystems that support them, it is unfair to communities and other industries.

The formal request, Fixing Systemic Failures in BC’s Mining Regulation: The Urgent Need for a Judicial Inquiry, sets out a series of questions for a Commission to investigate, provides case studies and examines taxpayer liability, placer mining regulation and mineral tenure system.

BC recently updated its 106-year-old Water Act. We now have the opportunity to modernize another set of outdated rules.

Read the request


The government rejected our request, but we still believe this is a key part of the environmental legal infrastructure in BC. We can handle rejection – it’s the environment, public safety and economic responsibility factors that concern us. Stay tuned!



The following groups sent letters to government asking for the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Public Inquiry:

  1. Mining Watch Canada
  2. First Nation Energy and Mining Council
  3. First Nation Women Advocating Responsible Mining
  4. West Moberly First Nations
  5. Northern Secwepemc te Qelmuckw Leadership Council (including T’exelc (Williams Lake Band) and Xat’sull/Cmetem (Soda/Deep Creek Band), etc.)
  6. Gitxaala Nation
  7. Yunesit’in Government and Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government
  8. Salmon Beyond Borders
  9. John Snyder (former President of Coal Watch Comox Valley, which disbanded after Raven Coal proposal was dropped)
  10. Sierra Club of BC
  11. Wilderness Committee
  12. Rivers Without Borders Canada
  13. Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment
  14. Kamloops Area Preservation Association
  15. Clayoquot Action
  16. Northern Confluence
  17. Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association, Human Rights Committee
  18. Kamloops Moms for Clean Air
  19. Aberdeen Neighbourhood Association