Water is indispensable for mineral exploration, from use in drilling to uses in camps. However, water use is not constant – either in terms of duration or geography – as it is generally limited to areas of active drilling programs. Since its use in these mineral-exploration related activities has typically been spread over time and distance, particularly in remote areas, industry’s use has been understated – until now.

In British Columbia, for example, the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) was brought into force in February 2016 along with a number of supporting regulations. The WSA replaces the former Water Act, which applied largely to permanent, intensive uses of water. Under the new act, a water licence or use approval is required for most uses of water, whether the water is diverted from a stream or an aquifer. However, the WSA does allow some exemptions for certain uses of water. AME has been actively working with government officials across the province to define exemptions for mineral explorers in B.C. for 2016 and into the future. Further to these collaborative discussions with government, mineral explorers have been exempt from the requirement to obtain a water use permit for 2016.

The uses of water vary for AME’s close to 5,000 members, and AME is evaluating water use and the Water Sustainability Act through the lenses of several of its volunteer committees – namely Aboriginal Relations; Environment, Health and Safety; Integrated Social Responsibility; and Land Access and Use. If you have information on water use that might help inform AME’s efforts, contact Rick Conte, AME’s executive vice-president, at [email protected] or 604.630.3926 to share your experiences, concerns and recommendations about using water at your mineral exploration sites in B.C.