CMA Hosts Ministry of Natural Resources Operations Workshop in Quesnel Feb. 15, 2011

CMA Hosts Ministry of Natural Resources Operations Workshop in Quesnel Feb. 15, 2011

Back row, Left to Right: Grant Feldinger, Andy Oetter, Don Smith, Chris Winther
Front Row, Left to Right: Joe Seguin, Bruce Hupman, Anne Brunke

[Webmin Note: The following article was submitted to the Quesnel Cariboo Observer today (Nov. 17) for publication.]

QUESNEL, B.C.: Wednesday, February 15 saw the Cariboo Mining Association (CMA) host a Workshop at the Quesnel Senior’s Center where a number of senior staff from the newly formed Ministry of Natural Resource Operations (NRO) put on a day long information session for local hard rock and placer miners to update them on current and upcoming changes within their related ministries.

Billed as a ‘Notice of Work and Reclamation’ planning session, Joe Sequin, Regional Director for the NRO, Mining and Minerals Division for the South Central Region, Kamloops and Bruce Hupman, Senior Inspector of Mines also of the NRO, brought along an additional crew of four other top staff members including Anne Brunke, Inspector of Mines, Permitting, Don Smith, Inspector of Mines, Permitting, Andy Oetter, Manager of Authorizations for the Thompson Okanagan Region and Grant Feldinger of the Williams Lake office for a day filled with new information covering a wide range of related mining topics.

The morning’s activities primarily dealt with helping local placer miners to get a clearer idea about some of the recent changes to one of the fundamental tools of the trade – the staking of claims.

In the old, pre-computer days, a person possessing a Free Miner’s Certificate could grab a compass, axe, a set of metal tags and then jump in their pickup truck and go out into the goldfields to stake their claim but those times are now over.

Today the placer or hard rock miner has to lay down their axe and compass, park their pickup, turn on their computer, grab their ‘mouse’ and head off into the wilds of cyberspace in search of new ground to stake and explore.

Not an easy task for many of the older miners who may have few of the computer skills necessary to wend their way through the maze of online ministries where instead of blazes on trees and brushed compass trails on the ground they now have to contend with pdf files, templates, digital maps, jpgs and GPS UTM coordinates and instead of going to their local government agent office and paying for their claim at the counter they need to make online credit card transactions.

To clarify and assist these transitional moves to online staking and alleviate the stress of maintaining and keeping ones placer claims in good standing was one of the main objectives of the morning sessions and Don Smith was there to assist. As Bruce Hupman, Senior Inspector of Mines put it to the sometimes perplexed audience of miners, “We’re here to help you, not to hinder you.”

Photo: Small placer testing program at the old Langford Camp mine site at 9 km on the Beaver Pass (2400) road summer of 2010.

The topics of discussion ranged from online staking to concerns about leases and cells, bonds and the perceived meager annual yardage now available to placer miners who have acquired cells for exploration and development.

The latest word within mining circles is that with the reorganization and amalgamation of a number of former ministries (Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources) into one centralized, super ministry known as the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, this process will most likely put a halt to changes that were in the works which would have allowed the volume of pay dirt to be mined in a season on a single cell to go from its current 2000 cubic meters upwards to a possible 20,000 cubic meters.

As far as the audience could discern, until the new ministry gets reorganized and whatever government of the day ends up running the province over the next year, these proposed changes would not likely come into effect until 2012 at the earliest.

Another major concern, especially in the wake of the recent ruling on Taseko Mine’s  Prosperity project in the Chilcotin, was the issue of consultation and the perceived problem for miners of fulfilling all the obligations with respect to the sometimes nebulous process of negotiating with First Nations whenever a claim owner wishes to develop their ground.

Many of the smaller placer miners feel that it should not be their individual responsibility to negotiate with third levels of government such as First Nations whenever they wish to develop their claims but rather that the province itself should set the standards and precedents for all interested parties and relieve the smaller miner of what too often becomes a very costly and onerous process of dealing with third party interests.

Ministry representatives assured the audience that in terms of the government’s perspective on the issue the threshold for consultation with First Nations is considered to be “very low.” By that was meant the provincial government’s position is to do all they can to accommodate First Nations concerns whenever dealing with issues of mining and mineral exploration.

The overall attitude of the mine inspectors was that in order for the mineral exploration and mining industry to cope with and improve the public’s perception of mining as an honorable, viable, environmentally responsible and essential primary industry within the province (contributing $6 billion to the provincial economy annually), it was essential to maintain and adhere to the high standards now set for environmental integrity and sustainability.
As Senior Inspector of Mines Hupman put it, “We have an image problem” and in order to repair the damage done by vested interests who would rather see mining and exploration disappear all together, it’s crucial that those who mine the earth for her treasures do so in a sustainable and responsible manner and that when they are finished processing the minerals that they return the disturbed ground to as natural a state as possible.

As a result of this perspective on the part of NRO staff, throughout the day’s workshop was heard again and again the refrain, “Reclaim! Reclaim! Reclaim!”; watch words for regaining lost PR ground that the audience appeared to heed without much complaint.

By the end of the session it was fairly obvious that gathering of government and miners had turned into a “win-win” situation. As CMA President Chris Winther put it, “The workshop was a great success for all concerned and we are looking forward to putting on more events like this in the future.”

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About Webmin

Male. Age 70. Married. Writer/Publisher

Posted on February 18, 2011, in CMA Events. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks Arthur
    Very well done, as usual.

  2. Thanks Arthur for your effort!
    I’m impressed, the site is very attractive & well done.
    Looking forward to input from locals to the site.
    Thank You.

  3. Thanks for the info,I attended the gov info day Thi is about time these meetings happened and I hope they keep it up , I didnt hear much on LPM issuance it would seem that part is now defunked as I have been trying to get information from that office for about two weeks with no results. what I am hearing threw the grapvine is they are not issuing LPM right now due to littigations with our first nations is finished.does anyone know whats happening

    I am concerned about the cell yardage I think it should brought to attention of mines just to eliminate the yardage deal and just go by the area of disturbance for bonding
    and get evey thing back to one tittle a placer lease ,as it seems they the mines are having a hard time adminering this system . and of course if they can pickup there heels and steamline the system Mike Collins

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