There are generally two different levels of mine permitting in B.C.—"major mine" and "regional" permits.
Major Mine Permitting and MMPO
Proposed major mines, major expansions/upgrades to existing mines, and some large-scale exploration/development projects require approval under the Mines Act as per part 10.1.2 of the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia. The newly established Major Mine Permitting Office (MMPO) is improving the co-ordination of major mine authorizations across government. MMPO brings clear accountability to both industry and government to ensure timely, high-quality applications and enduring decisions are made with respect to permitting major mine projects.
The Mines Act permitting process, which for major mines is closely integrated with the Environmental Management Act (EMA) permitting process, includes geotechnical design and reclamation and closure plans. The Ministry of Energy and Mines and Ministry of Environment have developed a guidance document on joint application information requirements for Mines Act and EMA permits. In addition to Mines Act and EMA permits, various other authorizations are required for major mining projects. Depending on the complexity of the proposal, applications are reviewed by either the relevant regional Mine Development Review Committee (MDRC) or project-specific Mine Review Committees (MRCs) led by MMPO.
Major mines and expansions (including large-scale industrial mineral and aggregate mines) in B.C. typically require environmental assessment (EA) certificates. For more information on British Columbia's EA process and thresholds, please visit the website of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.
Notice of Work Permit Applications ("Regional" Mines)
Applications for mineral and coal exploration activities, placer mines, and smaller-scale industrial minerals mines and aggregate pits/quarries are made online through FrontCounterBC. These are called "Notice of Work" (NoW) applications and are made under the Mines Act. NoWs are reviewed by Ministry of Energy and Mines regional offices or regional Mine Development Review Committees (MDRCs).