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News Release

Abandoned Mines Working Group Formed

In June 2001, a workshop was held in Winnipeg to review the issue of orphaned/abandoned mine sites and identify processes for moving forward. The 63 attendees represented 12 provinces and territories; 7 NGO groups; 5 First Nations; 5 Federal Government Departments, Offices and Boards; 7 mining companies; 5 mining industry associations; 3 communities; 3 consultants and 1 academic.

The group developed consensus guiding principles and recommendations for the 2001 Mines Ministers Conference. In September, the Mines Ministers agreed to the workshop recommendations, and a multi-stakeholder committee has now been established to implement them.

MiningWatch Canada sits on the committee, which held its first face-to-face meeting on March 12.

The terms of reference for the committee are as follows:

Guiding principles:

  • The remediation of orphaned/abandoned mine sites must be based on concern for public health and safety, respect for ecological integrity, and sustainable development;
  • All work currently on-going with respect to inventorying and remediation must continue based on sound science and good communication among all parties;
  • Work toward eliminating future abandonments must continue, including the tightening of regulatory approaches;
  • Implement the "polluter pays" principle;
  • Targeted end-use and reclamation standards must be acceptable to local communities;
  • Although the objective must be comprehensive reclamation of all sites, the approach must be cost-effective and based on an acceptable method of prioritizing sites;
  • Transparency and disclosure must be present in all decision-making processes;
  • Encompass the notion of "fairness" in all endeavours;

Recommendations:

  • That the national multi-stakeholder advisory committee address the following issues/initiatives and report back to Mines Ministers in 2002:
  • Developing capacity for a national inventory of active, closed, and orphaned/abandoned mine sites based on compatible inventories in each province and territory, and including a nationally acceptable categorization and priority-ranking system;
  • Engaging other relevant federal, provincial and territorial departments and ministries;
  • Developing a plan to foster community involvement in decision-making about closure and reclamation standards, and to ensure that targeted end-use and reclamation standards are acceptable to local communities;
  • Developing a plan to foster transparency and disclosure in all processes
  • Developing a plan for shared responsibility and stewardship where ownership cannot be established
  • Evaluating the efficacy of approaches including: "Good Samaritan legislation", "permit-blocking", "non-compliance registries", "allocative" vs. "joint & several" liability;
  • Evaluating models and mechanisms to pay for the remediation of orphaned/abandoned sites, including insurance options and contingency funds;
  • Securing appropriate funding for the above, at a level to be determined by IGWG and other stakeholders by November 2001.