Keywords:Environmental Management Act – s. 115; Administrative Tribunals Act – ss. 16; permit; mining; effluent; administrative penalty; consent order
Nicola Mining Inc. (the “Appellant”) appealed four decisions issued in February 2020 by the Director, Environmental Management Act (the “Director”), in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Permit 105894 (the “Permit”) authorizes the Appellant to discharge effluent to certain creeks from the Treasure Mountain Mine (the “Mine”). In June 2013, the Appellant ceased mining at the Mine and put it into care and maintenance. In July 2013, the Appellant sought creditor protection. In December 2015, the Appellant exited creditor protection, but continued to struggle financially, and the Mine remained in a state of care and maintenance.
In the four decisions, the Director found that between June 2014 and July 2019, the Appellant contravened various sections of the Permit that set requirements to conduct water and sediment sampling, report the results of sampling, and prepare a drainage management plan. The Director concluded that mining activities had occurred in the past, and mine impacted water was leaving the site. The Permit was still necessary and in force due to the ongoing discharge of mine contact water. The Director imposed administrative penalties totalling $136,000 for the contraventions.
The Appellant appealed the four decisions to the Board. The Appellant submitted that some of the contraventions were due to sampling errors or misunderstandings, and that enforcing the penalties would push the Appellant back into an unstable financial state. The Appellant asked the Board to find that it did not contravene the Permit and to rescind the penalties. Alternatively, the Appellant sought a reduction of the penalties.
Before the Board heard the appeal, the parties negotiated an agreement to resolve the appeals. By consent of the parties, the Appellant admitted all contraventions, and the Board ordered the Appellant to pay a global penalty of $100,000.00 for all contraventions. The appeal was allowed, in part.