Gibraltar Mines Ltd. penalized for environmental offences

Gibraltar Mine ordered to pay $70,000 in B.C. Provincial Court on June 29, after pleading guilty to five offences under the Fisheries Act.

Gibraltar Mines Ltd. was ordered to pay $70,000 in B.C. Provincial Court on June 29, 2016, after pleading guilty to five offences under the Fisheries Act related to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER).

“Between Aug. 15, 2014, and May 31, 2015, the company failed to complete environmental monitoring as required under the regulations, failed to submit environmental reports and failed to notify and report on a limit exceedance in the effluent discharge,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada in a press release Wednesday.

The mine’s owner, Taseko Mines Ltd., freely admitted to what it described as administrative reporting errors, said Taseko’s vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Battison.

“There was no environmental damage, nor was there any environmental risk,” Battison told the Tribune Wednesday. “The charges relate to the filing of reports.”

Gibraltar failed to file its reports on time, he said, noting in one instance a report was filed one day late.

“Regardless, it was still an administrative error,” Battison added.

Of the $70,000 penalty, Gibraltar will pay $65,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) and $5,000 as a fine.

The EDF is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada and was created in 1995.

It provides a way to direct funds received as a result of fines, court orders and voluntary payments to projects that will benefit the natural environment.

“We pleaded guilty to five of seven charges and we agreed to pay the fine of $5,000, $1,000 for each error,” Battison said, adding the other two charges were dropped as they weren’t deemed to be offences.

As a result of the errors, Battison said Gibraltar terminated a senior environmental engineer, created a superintendent of environment to provide additional senior level oversight of the sampling, testing and reporting, filled a vacancy for an environmental technician, and made changes to its internal reporting process.

“The judge in the case said the fine was a very substantial amount, given the non-intentional nature of the offences,” Battison said. “He also said that Gibraltar is doing the right thing to bring this to an end and has taken steps to make the environment even more protected, which is excellent.”

Because of the conviction, Gibraltar Mines Ltd. will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

The registry was created in 2009. It contains the names of corporations convicted of offences under certain federal environmental laws.

– With files from Environment and Climate Change Canada