At any time, an inspector may inspect a mine, or a site considered by the inspector to be a mining activity site that is operating without a permit.
The principal purpose of a mine inspection is to verify compliance with Regulatory Requirements and, where necessary, take the appropriate compliance action. A mine inspection also provides and opportunity for inspectors to observe and discuss operational practices and conditions with the owner/operator/manager/permittee.
Inspectors are either regional or provincial specialists who have broad experience in regulating health, safety, and environmental requirements at mine sites. Inspectors may have specialist expertise in areas of environmental geoscience, reclamation, geotechnical engineering, mechanical, electrical, ergonomics, occupational health, and mine emergency planning.
Inspections are separated into three distinct types; planned, reactive, and focused. Annually, inspectors undertake a planning process that results in an inspection plan that guides routine inspections for the year. In addition to the inspection plan, inspections may be conducted as a follow-up to a previous inspection, or to an incident, a complaint or information received from an Indigenous nation, other government agencies or the public regarding a permitted operation or unauthorized mining.
Inspections generally follow a process that includes pre-planning, conducting, and reporting.
Planning the inspection
Prior to an inspection, inspectors gather and review information relevant to the purpose of the inspection as well as the operator’s compliance status. Depending on scope, an inspection may seek the assistance of another inspector or government agency to verify compliance. Inspections may be announced or unannounced. For planned, announced inspections, inspections will generally contact the mine manager in advance to schedule the inspection and ensure that the necessary mine staff and resources to assist the inspection will be available.
Conducting the inspection
Generally, inspections will include a pre-inspection meeting, the inspection, and a close-out meeting. Pre-inspection meetings occur to introduce participants, identify the inspection focus, and discuss safety concerns. The inspection may include inspection may include a walk-through, records review, employee interviews, sampling, and observation. During the inspection, the inspector records observations made to verify the Regulatory Requirements. At the completion of an inspection, a meeting is often conducted with the mine manager to share key observations and issues, discuss expectations and timelines, and request further information from the permittee.
In the event that an inspector identifies an issue that may have immediate health and safety or environmental impacts, a verbal order may be issued at the time of observation.
The inspector will complete an inspection report, summarizing the areas inspected and the observations made of any non-compliances and the remedial action required. Learn more about inspection reports.
The observations may result in a compliance action, such as an advisory, warning or order. Orders include the remedial action and a timeline for remedying the non-compliance.
Reports must be issued by the inspector to the mine manager within seven business days. The Mine Manager is required to provide a written response within 15 business days of receiving the inspection report. The Manager's response must outline the remedial steps taken and the work still outstanding. Mine managers must remedy the non-compliance within the specified timeline, to the inspector’s satisfaction.
Failure to respond to and inspection report and/or an order may lead to escalated enforcement action, pursuant to the Mines Act and the C&E Policy.
Inspection reports for major mine operations are posted on the BC Mine Information website.