Government Prepares to Permit the Destruction of More Lakes by Mining: MiningWatch Canada Submits Environmental Petitions to Auditor General

(Ottawa) The Auditor General of Canada has accepted two Environmental Petitions recently submitted by MiningWatch Canada, questioning how the federal government can permit the permanent destruction of entire fish-bearing freshwater ecosystems by mine wastes in light of the government’s stated commitment to sustainable development.

Following directives from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Environment Canada proposes regulatory amendments to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations that essentially redefine protected fish habitat – selected natural water bodies across Canada – as industrial waste dumps. Two trout and salmon-bearing lakes in Newfoundland are currently being destroyed by mine waste following a similar amendment of the regulations in 2006. More lakes in Newfoundland and Nunavut as well as lakes in British Columbia, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories will soon follow (a detailed list is attached).

Most of these projects are being ‘scoped’ by DFO for screening-level Environmental Assessments, which do not require public participation. “It is completely unacceptable that Canada’s precious freshwater habitats are being turned over to the mining industry as cheap waste disposal solutions,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, “and it is an insult that Canadians’ opportunities to provide meaningful input into these decisions are being purposefully limited.”

For more information contact: Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada (613) 569-3439