Surprise! B.C.’s deadbeat mining companies are huge political donors

Taxpayers liable for $1.2 billion in cleanup costs as corporations cry poor

I really should not have read the newspaper before breakfast this morning. Nothing curdles the milk in your Grapenuts like toxic corporate influence.

Turns out B.C.’s Ministry of Energy and Mines has been allowing mining companies to skip out on paying for site reclamation bonds–basically, the fund that should ensure companies are on the hook for cleaning up their toxic properties after mines close instead of dumping the liability on us taxpayers.

That’s right, mining companies owe us $1.2 billion, and the biggest deadbeats are Teck Resources Ltd. — B.C.’s biggest coal company — and Barrick Gold Corp.

Well, golly, guess who’s the biggest corporate donor to the governing party? Why, that would be Teck! In the last decade, the mining giant and its subsidiaries have given the BC Liberals $1,915,814. Barrick Gold chipped in for another $75,700.

Now here’s what got me really mad… The Mining Association of B.C. spokesperson responded by whining about what a hard time companies have been having lately, then urged the Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, to “consult with the industry before [making] any changes that could undermine its already precarious state.”

Lucky for those poor old mining companies, their good friend Bill was way ahead of them, saying he’d wait until next year to fix the system to allow “the industry to prepare for unwelcome news.”

Oh, and by the way, he’s also allowing Teck and many of the other deadbeat companies to not pay their Hydro bills right now. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a break on your bills?

So, let me get this straight. If you flout the rules and default on your required payments, we should feel sorry that you have to follow the rules and make the required payments so British Columbians don’t get stuck with your toxic mess after you’ve ruined our air, land and water, not to mention cooked the planet?

But I guess that’s the kind of treatment you get if you can (even in supposedly terrible economic times) fork over a bunch of cash to the ruling party. Must be nice.

If you’re like me and you’re tired of feeling this way most mornings when you read the paper, consider joining one of Dogwood’s organizing teams. When the system is this flooded with corporate influence, the only way to bail the ship is with a determined group of like-minded folks.

Organized people can beat organized money if we’re willing to invest the time and hard work. Join us!

7 Responses to “Surprise! B.C.’s deadbeat mining companies are huge political donors”

  1. Andrew says:

    The mining industry is integral to the bc economy. They should receive full support from the government so that they can survive until the commodities rebound. Failure to see the important role industry plays in our lives is the reason one can’t environmentalists seriously. Oil is one thing. But mining?? if you want to shut down mines you must be willing to give up your bike, buses, metal cutlery, basically everything you own. heck even the computer you typed this blog post on must go. In essence you are a direect beneficiary of the work that mining companies do.

    Regarding donating to poltical parties. What about unions and the millions of dollars they give to the NDP? is that not a conflict of interest if the NDP gets in and they renegotiate contracts with teachers and nurses etc.?

    You must see the bigger picture. Industry provides valuable high paying jobs that then contribute to public coffers that pay for all the services we enjoy.

    Also its misleading to say Teck is a coal mining company. Most people will assume they are mining goal for electricity generation when thats not the case. They create metallurgical coal which is essential in the building of condos and highrises which a lot of us live in and is essential to sustainable development to prevent urban sprawl. They also mine copper, zinc and other metals that we all use on a daily basis.


    • Douglas says:

      Ummm Andrew, did you read this post? Correct me if I’m wrong here but as far as I can see, not one word that was printed in this post suggested that all mining, or any mining for that matter should cease operations in B.C.

      No wonder the political environment in this province is reaching a point of critical ineptitude.

  2. Laura Benson says:

    Dogwood Initiative’s Ban Big Money campaign ( calls for an end to political donations from corporations, unions and other special interests. Right now any person, corporation or union from any country or province can donate as much as they want to B.C. political parties. It hampers the ability of everyday people to elect governments who represent their interests, corrodes democracy and biases public policy and regulation.

    It is simply a fact that Teck–a mining company that produces primarily metallurgical coal–has historically been the biggest donor to the B.C. Liberal party. That makes it hard to believe that Teck’s special treatment from the B.C. Liberal government is a coincidence.

    Mining inevitably ends because it involves digging up finite natural resources. When it does end, the companies that have profited for so long from the digging are obligated to clean up and repair the environment where they have operated. This requires ongoing investments as the mines operate to ensure funds are in place when the time comes to clean up. Teck and other mining companies have not been fulfilling that obligation to invest in future clean up. That’s just plain unfair and it makes me mad.

    If the every day British Columbians whose paid and unpaid work is integral to the BC economy refused to make required payments to the government that keep all of us safe, healthy and prosperous, they would face serious consequences. But when a mining company skips out on its obligations we should feel sorry for them, expect no penalties and give them a few months to get used to the idea that they have to comply with the law? That’s ludicrous.

  3. Mark Thomson says:

    This would like never paying your medical premiums and then getting free medical care in spite iof it if you got sick or injured. God help the taxpayer when the mine runns out.

  4. Ryder says:


    Who’s to say that the coal market isn’t taking advantage of expecting the BC government to fund it instead of taking responsibility and hedging its own risks like it should. If Teck and other companies can’t take responsibility for site reclamation, and can’t stay profitable without someone else paying their bills, then there isn’t enough market for their product.

  5. Michael says:

    Andrew: Trolling for the mining corporations I see! The way economics works is supply and demand determine the price. If a miner can’t pay its bills with a great deal of supply and limited or diminishing demand, then the mine gets shut down for a while until demand starts meeting or exceeding supply. One way the corporate thieves take our money is to deliberately overproduce which they can then claim forces them to be uneconomical and which they then use ‘economic conditions’ to leverage themselves to not paying royalties, taxes or a fair wage through threats. These scumbag corporate mining thieves under fund corporate sinking funds which are meant to pay for clean up. The bottom line is that with minions like yourself and an often far too compliant corporate media they use threats to avoid taxes (I think deferred is the normal pap put out for government and public consumption – deferred for eternity is their goal) and environmental clean up costs so their major shareholders can extract as much profit as possible while leaving environmental cleanup and injured workers compensation and medical care for local, regional and national taxpayers to pick up the tab while the 1% wealthiest individuals who own 80% plus of all corporate shares use intimidation and threats and political pay-o-la to slither away with all of the profits and benefits leaving local communities and various levels of taxpayer supported government to clean up their mess and make the liability for the broken lives of injured workers and environmental disasters to taxpayers, whole.
    Andy baby if you are not an idiot, I hope they are compensating you very well for your sell-out of fellow citizens, your province and your country – otherwise you are just an idiot!

  6. illumin8 says:

    “Andrew” makes the same tiresome and bogus argument that oozes to the surface in every one of these disputes. That if you use one square of toilet paper then you are a hypocrite if you oppose irresponsible logging. People like Andrew are so simple they can only grasp black vs white arguments. Whereas reality is shades of grey. For the more sensible, this is about quantitative vs qualitative arguments.

    Let me try to illustrate the point for the Andrews of the world. If I suggest you eat less, do you think I’m telling you to starve to death? If I tell you to save more of your paychek, am I telling you to put 100% of it in the bank regardless of the consequences? If you don’t misinterpret these scenarios, then you’re smart enough to realize you’re misrepresenting what environmentalists say about resource extraction.

    Andrew, no environmentalist called for the immediate end to all resource extraction. Doing so would be impossible, undesirable and if it were possible, disastrous. What you need to grasp is that environmentalists call for sustainable resource use. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. You will then claim sustainable resource use will cause economic collapse. But you will be wrong about that also. The economy will thrive better in the context of sustainables than the way we do things now.

    No, you throw out this “hypocrite” argument because you want to make your opponents look stupid. But since that argument is something you heard and like the sound of and repeat, and not something your opponents said, then by posting it you are arguing with yourself. Which is boring and makes you look dumb. Kindly cease this nonsense.

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