Work on cleaning up abandoned mines continues

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

The urgency of abandoned mines clean-up is becoming increasingly obvious to federal decision-makers. This summer, MiningWatch Canada has been working with the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and officials at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to come up with a plan that will:

  • Create a database and inventory of all mines (operating and closed) in the country, including physical and chemical site assessments;
  • Develop a transparent and effective system for ranking hazards and the need for remediation at mines;
  • Develop mechanisms for emergency response at sites;
  • Develop a funding mechanism to recover the costs of abandoned mine reclamation, monitoring and care.

We do not expect easy agreement with MAC or NRCan on who pays for clean-up, since it is our position that industry should pay, one way or another. However, the issue of abandoned mines was highlighted by MAC, the Yukon Territorial Government and NRCan at the recent Mines Ministers conference in Toronto.

We are also part of the Green Budget Coalition, with the Canadian Nature Federation, CPAWS, the Sierra Club, the Pembina Institute, Ducks Unlimited, and others. Part of the Green Budget proposal is a "Clean Canada Fund" to set aside $2 billion on a cost-recovery basis to begin the clean-up of toxic sites, including abandoned mines. The federal government has shown considerable interest in this proposal.

See our January 12 press release "Abandoned Mines Liability Tops $1 Billion: Watchdog Presents Action Plan to Federal Ministers" and the document "Mining's Toxic Orphans: A Plan for Action on Federal Contaminated and Unsafe Mine Sites".