Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MLA Rice raises Banks Island Gold Mine issues in Legislature

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice brought
issues related to the Banks Island
Gold Mine to the Legislature on Monday
Spurred on by a letter of concern from the Gitxaala First Nation, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice called attention to the province's handling of the Banks Island Gold Mine Operations during the Monday session of the Legislature.

Ms. Rice raised a number of questions related to provincial efforts towards that operation and what steps might be required for clean up and associated issues that have arisen from the mine closure.

Speaking during the course of the Monday afternoon Question Period, Ms. Rice noted that the company had not reported two separate tailing spills and a number of other health and safety infractions.

Adding that to her alarm, it was revealed that the staff from the Ministry of Mines had never set foot on Banks Island until it had been in operation for fifteen months and only after the ministry had received a tip from the opposition that there had been a spill and there were safety infractions.

She also reviewed for the Legislature that in addition to the job loss for ninety people that were employed on the site, the status of the Gitxaala First Nation traditional and seafood harvesting operations are of concern to the community.

To further deliver her points on the theme of Ministry involvement with oversight on the mining operation she offered up a key question for Minister Bill Bennett.

To the minister: why were there no inspections for 15 months — while, at the exact same time, the minister was promising increased rigour for mine oversight?

The Minister of Energy and Mines took issue with some of the North Coast MLA's interpretation of events related to the mine site, noting for the chamber that the mine had been closed and remains closed, adding that it will not reopen unless the operators can show that they will operate in a way that protects the natural environment.

Ms. Rice's questions to Minister Bennett and his response to those inquiries can be reviewed below:

The discussion related to the Banks Island operations expanded during the course of the afternoon question period, with the NDP's Norm Macdonald joining in on the conversation, providing more background on the issue at the time of the first complaints and expressing further concerns over how the Ministry handled the issue.

The Energy and Mines Minister for his part took on each of those interjections and provided the government's view of how events progressed towards the mine closure of August of 2015.

The full exchange can be reviewed from the Legislature Minutes starting at the 14:20 point of the afternoon session.

Some background related to the Banks Island issues can be found below.

August 5 -- Banks Island Gold in financial difficulty after shutting Yellow Giant Mine
August 5 -- Banks Island Gold suspends Yellow Giant Mine operations
August 4 -- Banks Island Gold suspends operations on North Coast  NCR
August 4 -- MLA Rice offers statements on Banks Island Mining and BC Cabinet shuffle  NCR

For more items related to developments at the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page here.

Issues related to mining in British Columbia can be found on our Mining archive page.

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