New Mining Risk Enforcement Framework


The Ministry of Energy and Mines recently released its risk management framework for mining in British Columbia, one of the first new regulatory documents coming out of the reformed ministry structure in British Columbia for Mining, Energy and Petroleum resources.

It was issued and signed on June 22, 2018. It indicates a unified and collective approach by the Ministry of Energy, Mines Petroleum Resources, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Environmental Assessment Office to oversee mines in British Columbia.

It describes a new risk management framework that lawyers working in regulated sectors will be familiar with, as drawing together various committees and centralized authorities that coordinate activities across ministry and regulatory bodies, and establish risk matrices to identify types of risks that they wish to address.

Programs, for example, common in regulated industries, we see:

  • A "likelihood of occurrence" matrix that follows a likelihood of risk being from "almost certain" to "almost certainly not to happen".
  • A potential degree of impact rating from being "catastrophic" - defined as "a major problem for which there is no recovery".
  • Or significant damage in agency's reputation or credibility, to "an insignificant issue where these various risks will then result in different and differing regulatory treatment".

How this will play out in practice is yet to be seen, but it shows some early movement in the reform of regulation of mines in British Columbia.