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News Release

Auditor-General Exposes Abandoned Mines/Contaminated Sites Crisis

On October 22, 2002, Sheila Fraser, the Auditor-General of Canada, released her report on Abandoned Mines in the North. The report lends enormous credibility to everything we have been saying about these toxic time-bombs.

The report is available on the Auditor-General's website.

Undertaken by Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development Johanne Gélinas, the report states that:

  • Hundreds of thousands of highly toxic chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide are found in these sites, and are at hazardous levels.
  • DIAND (a.k.a. the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development) has a list of 17 northern abandoned mines that are high priority contaminated sites: 3 have been remediated, 4 are in the Yukon and 10 are in the NWT
  • DIAND estimates they will cost at least $555 million to remediate
  • Every year millions are spent to contain them. This year the amount was $26 million
  • Long-term stable funding is required to deal with the sites
  • In the past DIAND did not collect sufficient financial security to deal with the sites
  • DIAND says that full security has been achieved at Diavik and Ekati, however older mines still in operation do not have full securities
  • The average amount the federal government received a year in royalties from 1966-2002 from mining companies in the North was $4.16 million (for a total of $150 million).The total royalties are less than 1/3 of the estimated remediation costs.

The Auditors undertook intensive case studies of four sites: Colomac and Giant in the NWT, and Faro and Mount Nansen in the Yukon. These four sites represent about 90% of the financial burden to the department.