Author: Singleton-Polster, Rachel
This project assesses mine reclamation regulations in the Peace River region of British Columbia, focusing on metallurgical coal mines within the range of endangered Central Mountain Caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Caribou are facing precipitous decline as a result of the cumulative impacts of resource extraction, including mining and the lack of effective mine reclamation. This project seeks to understand what reclamation commitments were made at these mine sites; whether these are adequate for the protection and recovery of sensitive caribou habitat; whether they are being met through reclamation activities; and how these commitments are being evaded, if so. This understanding is underpinned by an analytical framework which assesses the role of the state at these mines through theories of legitimization; regulatory capture; accumulation; the racial state; and slow violence. I argue that the provenance of current mine reclamation regulations in BC is rooted in this province's own origins as a mining jurisdiction and that today, the state facilitates reclamation failure through lax regulation, discretionary support, and regulatory capture. Additionally, I argue that mining companies use legal and financial tools to deliberately and systematically avoid even the most modest obligations required of them by BC's reclamation regulations. This further imperils endangered caribou populations and perpetuates slow violence against both the land and the Indigenous peoples of Treaty 8. Finally, while noting the systemic failures of the existing regime, I make suggestions to strengthen reclamation regulations and improve accountability within the current framework.
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Thesis advisor: Collard, Rosemary-Claire
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