First Nations call for stepped-up financial assurance to mitigate mine disaster risk

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Vancouver Sun

The B.C. First Nations Energy and Mining Council is calling on the provincial government to close a policy gap that allows mining companies not to provide financial assurance to pay for the costs of a mine disaster.

The call comes on the eve of the five-year anniversary of Imperial Metals’ catastrophic Mount Polley mine dam spill in the Interior — which has still resulted in no environmental charges — and as the council released a report it commissioned on reducing the risks of mining disasters in B.C.

In 2014, the province ordered Imperial Metals to clean up the massive spill, which the company did, but the council’s report notes that if a company went bankrupt, the public could be on the hook for costs.

The report, authored by consultant economist Jason Dion, recommends that B.C. introduce a tiered scheme of financial assurance, where mining companies would have to put up money, perhaps through a bond or third-party insurance, to pay for the costs of a disaster, combined with assistance from the mining sector as a whole, possibly through a pooled fund.

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