Urgent Action Required: Stop the Government of Canada from Turning Two Newfoundland Lakes into Mine Waste Dumps

A proposal to amend the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations has been posted to the Canada Gazette. The proposal will change two fish-bearing water bodies in Newfoundland — at the headwaters of the Exploits River — into permanent tailings impoundments to service Aur Resources’ Duck Pond Mine. The mine will only last seven years.

Alternatives to using the lakes for tailings disposal were never properly evaluated, and the plan to compensate for the destruction of fish habitat is inadequate.

In addition, there has been inadequate consultation with indigenous organizations about the proposal.

This proposal is the first attempt to use the revised Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) to allow the destruction of fish-bearing waters for mine waste dumps, and will likely be followed by as many as 18 other requests to destroy other lakes in the future. The addition of Trout Pond to the MMER amendments could set a precedent for using new lakes as tailings dumps all across Canada.

Among the other mines waiting for MMER amendments to proceed are:

  • The Kemess North mine in north-central BC, which will take Duncan Lake for tailings disposal
  • The Red Chris Mine in the headwaters of the Nass, Skeena, and Stikine Rivers
  • The Wabush Mine in Labrador. (It appears that the company is already discharging tailings to Flora Lake under a Transitional Authorization and the authorization has been extended to cover it until a Schedule 2 amendment is possible.)

A copy of the complete Gazette notice, (Gazette Part I, April 8, 2006, Vol. 140, No. 14, p. 771) can be downloaded from the Canada Gazette web site; the relevant section is attached below.

Please write to the Privy Council Office regarding:

  1. the need to review alternatives to using new lakes (such as the lakes in Newfoundland) as tailings impoundment areas (TIAs);
  2. the fact that the fisheries assessment for Trout Pond was flawed;
  3. the risk of ground water contamination;
  4. the lack of aboriginal consultation for the inclusion of Trout Pond in the amendments; and
  5. your concerns about the precedent for using fish-bearing waters as waste dumps.

For more information see our backgrounder.

Comments must be submitted by May 7, 2006.

Please submit your formal comment to Patrick Finlay at Environment Canada, patrick.finlay(at)ec.gc.ca and copy:

Georgette Muller, PCO Policy Analyst, gmueller(at)pco-bcp.gc.ca
Joan Kuyek, MiningWatch Canada National Coordinator, joan(at)miningwatch.ca
Sarah Heiberg, Caucus Coordinator, Canadian Environmental Network, sarah(at)cen-rce.org