First Nations leaders highlight ‘massive need’ for reform in mining industry

This piece was also featured in: The Globe and Mail

First Nations leaders say regulatory changes for the mining industry are needed to prevent a repeat of the Mount Polley tailings dam collapse.

Members of the Soda Creek Band, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and First Nations Summit want the provincial government to act quickly on recommendations put forward last week by an independent panel reviewing the disaster.

The panel found that design flaws contributed to the breaching of the dam in August 2014. The panel’s recommendations would ensure the use of better technology at future tailings facilities, a definitive response process to regulatory evaluations of facilities and improved safety guidelines.

“There is massive need for serious mining reform in British Columbia,” said Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit.

First Nations leaders said they are collaborating with the provincial government in response to the Mount Polley tailings dam breach.

Having signed a letter of understanding with the province, the Soda Creek Band and Williams Lake Band will have a say in determining future of the mine and the long-term impact the spill will have on the environment and surrounding communities.

“First Nations want to ensure that all the recommendations are implemented, not just some of them,” said Chief Bev Sellars of the Soda Creek Band.

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Linda Givetash

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Linda Givetash is a Canadian-South African freelance journalist based in Vancouver, B.C. Her work has appeared in print, digital and broadcast media outlets around the globe.