BC forest. (File photo)

Miners should pay for all environmental damages: Poll

The poll also found BC residents believe more protected areas should be created

A poll released by a coalition of environmental groups lobbying for mining law reform shows that 90 per cent of British Columbians believe mining operators should be required to pay to clean up all environmental damage their operations cause.

The poll, which was done on behalf of the BC Mining Law Reform network, also found 80 percent of British Columbians supported the creation of more protected areas “even if that means reducing areas available for mining and forestry,” with support in BC excluding the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island sitting at 72 percent.

On the support for operators repairing all environmental damage, Lars Sander-Green of local environmental group Wildsight – which is a member of the BC Mining Law Reform network – said that “what that gets to is that people in BC think that hasn’t necessarily been happening, and (taxpayers) are left holding the bag.”

Sander-Green said that locally, the issue comes to reclamation bonds – funding set aside by operators to shut down and rehabilitate mine sites when they get to their end of their operational lives.

“Part of the problem is that Teck hasn’t paid the full amount of the estimate, they’re $500 million short,” he said.

Support for miners paying for all environmental damage in BC excluding the lower mainland and Vancouver Island was 93 per cent.

Teck however refutes the claim that it’s falling short, saying that it was meeting all of its requirements for bonding security as directed by the BC government.

Spokesman for Teck, Norman Fraser said “we are committed to fully meeting all of our reclamation obligations at no cost to the taxpayer.”

“Ultimately, we recognize it is our responsibility to fully close and reclaim sites once mining has concluded, and we work hard to ensure that responsibility is met at every site.”

On the timing of the poll, released right before the provincial election, Sander-Green said that it was a “message to the new government.”

“This is what British Columbians want – new government, new mandate. It’s time to give the people what they want. If there’s going to be mining, it’s got to be done right.”

Sander-Green said he didn’t believe mining had been given enough attention in the campaign since it began in late September.

“We’ve seen a lot of attention on forestry, but I think we also need to talk about reforming our mining laws in BC.”

The polling data all backed “common sense ideas” when it came to how society interacted with the mining industry, said Sander-Green.

“People in the East Kootenays are pretty fond of their parks and wildlife.”

The polling commissioned by the BC Mining Law Reform network was conducted by a Vancouver-based market research company.

Polling also showed a majority of respondants believed that while minerals and metals from BC helped the transition to a clean economy, it must be done responsibly.

READ MORE: B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

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