Mineral exploration and development have a low physical impact on the local environment when compared to other industrial activities, and over the past 50 years, AME members have worked with governments and other user groups to ensure that low-impact mineral exploration activities may occur in a variety of landscapes while respecting the physical environment.
All mineral exploration work programs are subject to posting of reclamation security with the province that is returned following successful restoration of a site to its former condition. In recognition of the low impact of mineral exploration programs on the physical environment, mineral exploration projects are allowed to divert water for mineral exploration activities without a permit in most cases under the Water Sustainability Act.
AME actively works with the provincial government to ensure that legislation regarding the environment recognizes the low impact of mineral exploration on the physical environment – resulting in resources such as the Mineral and Coal Exploration Handbook and legislation including regulations to the Water Sustainability Act that specifically address water use in mineral exploration.
The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME) recognizes that for present and future generations environmental stewardship is a fundamental cornerstone of a safe, modern, and sustainable mineral exploration and mining sector.
As such, in conducting their activities, AME members should strive to:
- Communicate these guiding principles and our collective commitment to respect and care for the environment to our members, communities of interest, Aboriginal peoples, relevant regulatory agencies, and international stakeholders.
- Ethically manage their activities to comply with applicable permits, laws, and regulations. In the absence of specific regulations, members should adopt B.C.’s best management practices to prevent or reduce environmental impacts and to promote sustainable development initiatives.
- Efficiently manage energy, resources, and materials and prevent pollution of the air, land, and water by implementing scientifically proven and economically feasible technologies during all phases of the mineral exploration and mining cycle.
- Balance economic, social, and environmental considerations. Help protect vulnerable habitats and species when feasible. Respect legally designated protected areas.
- Conduct initial and periodic assessments, baseline studies, and environmental assessments in an effective, efficient, and transparent manner.
- Wherever possible, incorporate local or traditional knowledge and practice into baseline studies and the management of environmental issues. Be respectful of the nature of such information and maintain confidentiality as and when requested to do so.
- Use environmental protection plans or management systems that ensure identification of environmental impacts, effective implementation of mitigation, follow-up monitoring, emergency planning and response, auditing, reporting, and continual improvement in all areas.
- Use a management and reporting structure that allocates appropriate resources to meet environmental obligations during all phases of the mineral exploration and mining cycle.
- Support efforts to remediate and mitigate historical mineral exploration impacts. Use a science-based approach in cooperation with relevant regulatory agencies, communities of interest, and Aboriginal peoples.
- Try to reuse and recycle products and materials used in all phases of the mineral exploration and mining cycle.
- Continuously seek opportunities to improve environmental performance and regularly report progress to our members, communities of interest, Aboriginal peoples, relevant regulatory agencies, and international stakeholders.
- Reclamation tool [under development]
- Handbook for Mineral and Coal Exploration in British Columbia – a working field guide issued by AME in collaboration with the Mining Association of British Columbia and the Province of British Columbia
- Water Sustainability Act