Together We Can Find Solutions For Aggregate Mining
By Kevin Krueger
Minister of State for Mining
Sept. 18, 2007
Through the B.C. Mining Plan, we are achieving our vision for a thriving, globally competitive, safe and environmentally responsible exploration and mining industry. The plan has four cornerstones: focus on communities and First Nations, protecting workers and the environment, global competitiveness and access to land.
Mining in the 21st century has changed. Land-use planning and consultation are now being done before development begins; and the safety of the environment and workers is paramount. Mining companies are now required to plan for what happens after mining activity has finished. Former mines have been reclaimed; forests, grazing lands and wildlife habitat have taken their place. Not all mine permit applications are approved. We have a thorough process where we examine the impacts a mine may have on the health and safety of the environment and our communities, now and in the future.I recently toured Okanagan aggregate sites and listened to the concerns of residents about proposed gravel pits. I will make every effort to ensure community concerns are addressed, while balancing the need for an affordable supply of aggregate against any potential impact of production.
Gravel is a valuable resource that all of our communities need when building our homes, hospitals, schools, roads and sidewalks. We are all consumers of aggregate products; each British Columbian requires an average of 12 tonnes of aggregate per capita per year. About 70 per cent of aggregate consumed annually in British Columbia’s populated areas is used to maintain existing infrastructure.
We need to work together to find long-term solutions for communities, industry and government. We are doing this with the Fraser Valley Regional District Aggregate Pilot Project. The goal of this project is to develop a B.C. model for long-term provincial aggregate management that includes best practices from the district and industry. We are looking forward to receiving recommendations in the fall.
I am saddened and distressed, as I believe everyone in the industry is, with the recent aggregate-related fatalities. These terrible losses are unacceptable and my deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of these workers. Over the coming weeks, I will be meeting and working with the aggregate industry to prevent further tragedies. B.C. has long been a world-leader in mine safety. We want to ensure that we uphold this reputation and keep our mine workers safe.
I will continue to listen carefully and work closely with local governments, industry and community members to ensure that British Columbia’s mining reputation as a world leader in social responsibility and environmental protection is maintained. We will find solutions that balance the needs of industry development with the health and safety of our communities and environment.