RISK NEEDS A PRICE

The Globe and Mail (Ottawa/Quebec Edition) - - EDITORIAL -

Re It’s Time To Put A Price On The Risk Of Min­ing Dis­as­ters (Aug. 3): We’ve marked the fourth an­niver­sary since the Mount Pol­ley min­ing dis­as­ter in B.C. re­leased 25 bil­lion litres of toxic tail­ings into Pol­ley Lake, Hazel­tine Creek, and the once-pris­tine Ques­nel Lake. To date, there has been no jus­tice – no fines, no penal­ties, no com­pen­sa­tion for com­mu­ni­ties.

Ecofis­cal does well to bring at­ten­tion to the need for fi­nan­cial as­sur­ances in min­ing for both recla­ma­tion (where B.C. falls more than $1-bil­lion short) and to fund po­ten­tial dis­as­ters (an in­dus­try pooled fund to pro­tect in case a com­pany goes bank­rupt). This dis­as­ter fund also needs to ad­dress com­mu­nity com­pen­sa­tion (loss of fish­ing, loss of drink­ing wa­ter, re­duced land/wa­ter ac­cess etc.) in a way that is ac­ces­si­ble. The au­thor sug­gests Im­pe­rial Met­als has paid for clean-up costs to date. Given B.C.’s tax regime, the com­pany was able to get tax breaks for its post dis­as­ter ef­forts, leav­ing the pub­lic pick­ing up some 35 cents of each dol­lar spent (more than $23mil­lion as of 2016).

It is time that a price is put on the risk of min­ing dis­as­ters be­fore an­other water­shed and com­mu­nity pays the price for weak laws and en­force­ment.

Loretta Wil­liams

Chair, First Na­tions Women Ad­vo­cat­ing Re­spon­si­ble Min­ing; elected Coun­cil­lor, Xeni Gwet’in First Na­tion Tsilqot’in Ti­tle Lands

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