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, 577KB) and by completing the Self-Assessment Form (DOCX, 104KB). The guidance was initially released in December 2020 and was revised in March 2023. Please ensure you are using the March 2023 version.

Projects that are substantial, or potentially substantial, must proceed through a Notice of Departure (NoD) or Mines Act permit amendment process. No works can commence until written authorization is received. Before submitting an 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; and
  • discuss timing, information, and engagement requirements.

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

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 MineSpace.


Upon receipt, EMLI staff will assess the information provided within the NoD 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 if the proposed work is authorized - in writing, through a Notice of Departure Determination Letter.