Help is on the way: Update from the Notice of Work permitting workshop held at KEG

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As part of AME’s ongoing efforts to streamline the process for obtaining a provincial Notice of Work (NoW) exploration permit, AME, together with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (MEMPR), held a workshop on April 8 at the Kamloops Exploration Group (KEG) conference to provide an update of the activities underway to support improvements to the NoW process.

“Processing is not a simple process anymore,” said Julie Chace, Executive Regional Director, MEMPR, during an interview with Tracey Sexton, Director, Communications and Corporate Affairs, AME, at the workshop, “It takes a lot of collaboration and a lot of effort on both sides.”

A NoW permit is required under the BC Mines Act to explore and develop precious, base, or industrial mineral deposits in the province. The BC government has committed to maintain an average 60-day turnaround time for NoW applications, however few AME members have achieved this.

“We work with multiple partners to get the permits processed,” said Chace, “People’s first stop will often be Front Counter BC, and then we work with our partners at the Ministry of Forests and Lands to do the First Nations consultation. There are lots of people involved in getting a permit through so that can be a challenge.”

MEMPR have engaged One-eighty Consulting Group Inc. to review current guidance and online tools, and to engage with regulators and industry representatives to assess the challenges and identify potential solutions. One-eighty is a specialized consulting firm providing strategic regulatory and public affairs services to North American clients engaged in resource, infrastructure and community development.

“The team at One-eighty are working with AME members, the Land Access and Use committee and government agencies to build a comprehensive guidance document on preparing and submitting a NoW,” said AME’s Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Policy, Rob Stevens, “This document will be used by industry, government ministries and First Nations so everyone involved in the process is working from the same guidelines and requirements.”

“At the same time, we’re working with MEMPR to identify and resolve some of the challenges and bottlenecks in the permitting system. This is important to ensure BC remains an attractive and reliable jurisdiction to work in,” said Stevens.

One-eighty’s Principal Jason Quigley and Associate Janet Mackenzie facilitated the KEG permitting workshop earlier this month and provided an update on their work, along with tips and advice on how to prepare a NoW permit application.

Based on a desktop compilation and analysis of existing guidance materials completed in late 2018, together with conversations with government and industry in early 2019, One-eighty identified five key themes adversely affecting the NoW process:

  • Mapping products submitted as part of NoW applications are inconsistent in quality. Increased guidance on mapping requirement are needed.
  • MEMPR requires more robust reclamation plans that are being submitted, and industry have requested assistance to understand what is required.
  • There is a need for clear and consistent guidance on what is required of proponents when documenting Indigenous engagement activities.
  • The online NoW application form is confusing and overly long.
  • Applicants receive limited communication on the progress of their application.

One-eighty are now creating a comprehensive, one-stop NoW companion document to assist applicants to complete high quality notice of work applications, including sample content for key areas such as ‘Description of Work’. It will also provide descriptions of required information and the level of detail necessary for individual text boxes, such as reclamation programs, and point applicants to the relevant guidance and policies. In addition, the companion document will outline the tasks that require a long lead time and information required for those sections, such as archaeological considerations and landowner authorization, and an application process flowchart.

“The NoW application companion will serve as a single source of information that applicants can consult to help utilize their time and resources efficiently. The result will be a complete, high-quality application that increases the likelihood of obtaining a NoW permit in a timely fashion,” said Mackenzie.

Until the companion document in completed later in 2019, AME members can contact Jordan Townley, Manager, Marketing & Communications at AME, for a copy of the tips and tricks PowerPoint presentation prepared by One-eighty for the April 8 workshop.

By Kylie Williams