Mines Act Departures from Approval

Under section 10.1.18 of the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in B.C., written authorization from the Chief Permitting Officer is required for any substantial changes to an existing mine plan and reclamation program.

Major coal and metal mines should first assess whether the proposed change is considered a substantial or non-substantial departure by reviewing the Departure from Approval Guidance for Major Mine Permit Holders guidance document (PDF, 496KB) and by completing the Self-Assessment Form (DOCX, 104KB).

Projects that are substantial, or potentially substantial, must proceed through a departure from approval or Mines Act permit amendment process. No works can commence until written authorization is received. Before submitting a departure from approval application, permit holders should reach out to the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI) to

  • introduce the project
  • discuss whether the changes are non-substantial or substantial, if uncertainty remains after the completion of the self-assessment form
  • discuss whether the changes qualify as a departure from approval or if they require a permit amendment
  • discuss any drilling or test pitting in an area that is not permitted for disturbance
  • discuss timing, information, and engagement requirements

Applications that are submitted as a departure from approval may be referred to the permit amendment process if, upon review, EMLI staff determine that an amendment is required for the proposed project.

Departures from approval process

Departures from approval for major coal and metal mines are managed by the EMLI Major Mines Office (MMO) and must be submitted through the MMO’s intake email permrecl@gov.bc.ca.

Upon receipt, EMLI staff will assess the information provided within the departure from approval application. EMLI may ask clarifying questions about the proposed departure, and it is expected that the applicant will provide comprehensive responses to questions raised by reviewers. Other ministries and Indigenous Nations may be engaged as part of the review process. EMLI will inform the proponent in writing if the proposed work is authorized through a Notice of Departure Authorization Letter.