Impacts of Mining Activities on Water: A technical and legislative guide to support collective action

In Quebec, the media often singles out the mining industry for being a repeat offender. This reputation stems from the bad practices of certain mine developers who have abandoned contaminated mine sites and left Quebec residents on the hook for billions of dollars for restoration, turned rivers red for dozens of kilometres, or have used lakes as dumping grounds for the tailings from iron ore processing plants.

There is a growing awareness about the environmental cost of mining and the fragility of the natural world. Citizens and communities who are experiencing these negative impacts are increasingly denouncing the industry’s archaic practices – practices which remain possible thanks to an outdated legislative framework.

This guide brings together the basic scientific, technical, and legal knowledge related to mining with the goal of supporting local populations, Indigenous nations, municipalities, Regional County Municipalities (MRCs) in Quebec, environmental protection organizations, grassroots committees, and other entities and individuals who are organizing against such projects in their regions and territories. The information is presented in such a way as to draw the reader's attention to the key issues associated with mining which could have significant or irreversible impacts on water. The guide goes into detail about much of the legislation governing these projects, and while some of the mentioned legislation may be specific to the province of Quebec, many other jurisdictions have similar laws or legal frameworks. The reader could take what’s outlined here as a starting point and apply it to their own circumstances. The final chapter lays out possible actions that can be taken at the regional, municipal, and local levels to ensure that new mining projects are carried out with due regard for the integrity of the environment and for the health and well-being of future generations.

Produced by Eau Secours with the support of the Coalition Québec meilleure mine, MiningWatch Canada, the Western Mining Action Network, Coalition QLAIM, and the Regroupement Vigilance mines Abitibi-Témiscamingue.