- Our Town
Proposed new fees blindside miners
Mining permit fees being proposed by the provincial government will seriously impact prospectors and small scale placer miners, said Cariboo Mining Association (CMA) president Richard Wittner.
In a draft discussion paper on Mines Act fees released by the ministry of energy and mines last month, miners would be required to make an application for a Notice of Work (NOW).
For small scale placer and mineral/coal exploration activities with a total surface disturbance of under one hectare, the proposed fee is $2,000.
The cost goes up to $4,000 for up to three hectares and up to $6,000 for more than three hectares.
Because the new fee structure is not a “done deal” members are trying to work closely with government to make recommendations.
So far Wittner has taken his concerns to Cariboo North MLA Coralle Oakes and he has a meeting scheduled with Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett next Friday.
“I’m also attempting to talk to some of the local mayors about the economic impact, but I haven’t been able to meet with any of them yet,” Wittner said.
Williams Lake prospector and mining equipment manufacturer Eric Bridgen said the discussion paper blindsided everybody.
“A lot of people were under the confusion that if we pay the permit fees then we wouldn’t be putting up any bonding, but this is just a fee for processing the paper work, we’ll still be nailed for the bonding.”
Bonding can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000.
Last Sunday more than 40 people attending a meeting in Quesnel hosted by the CMA and 100 per cent of them voted in favour of not accepting the fees.
“Now we’re writing letters,” Bridgen said.
Energy and mines minister Bill Bennett said Wednesday he doesn’t want to charge fees, but his ministry has to generate revenue.
Presently miners don’t pay permit fees to government, while people in forestry and oil and gas do, he added. Bennett said he is hoping the bulk of the revenue will come from mines at the top of the spectrum.
In fact the proposed major mine permit fee is $300,000.
“The grassroots guys on the ground, poking around, are the ones who make discoveries so we have to make sure we don’t create policy that’s going to discourage them,” he added.
Fees would help recover 60 per cent of the costs for corporate administrative services, inspector analysis of permit applications, technical reviews, referral costs and First Nations consultation.
Permitting fees will directly support “timely” processing of permit applications and sustaining the enhanced level of service provided to the industry, but will not directly increase the number of inspections, Bennett said.
In 2013 mines inspectors conducted a total of 1196 mine visits and the number of mine visits conducted annually by inspectors has nearly doubled since 2005, he added.
Comments on the discussion paper will be accepted until March 31. It is anticipated the fees will be in place for the fall of 2014.