Boreal Forest’s Wildlife and Communities Threatened by Impacts from Exploration, Mining – Revised 'Boreal Below' Report
(Sudbury) A major new report highlights serious impacts on the Canadian boreal forest from all phases of mining activity, from exploration to closure.
Two respected mining industry watchdogs – Northwatch and MiningWatch Canada – say they published The Boreal Below (an all-new and expanded version of a widely circulated 2001 report) in response to growing demand from communities across Canada for information and analysis to help understand the impacts of mining on their lives and livelihoods. It provides a carefully-documented analysis of the social, environmental, and cultural impacts of mining from prospecting to mine closure, as well as an overview of the current situation by province and territory.
“A storm of mining activity is threatening to wipe out our mineral reserves, damage fragile eco-systems, and infringe Aboriginal rights. The storm will leave millions of tonnes of toxic waste, polluted waters, and bankrupt mining towns in its wake,” says Joan Kuyek, National Co-ordinator of MiningWatch Canada.
“The impacts of this storm will be serious and long-lasting and will be borne – first and foremost – by the people living in the Boreal forest. In the long run, the taxpayers will have to pick up the tab for environmental and economic reclamation.”
Brennain Lloyd, Coordinator of Northwatch, adds, “In the past year, Aboriginal peoples and surface rights holders have come together to challenge mining legislation in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, the Maritimes, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Across the country, the antiquated ‘Free Entry’ system has provoked a real rebellion against the privileged access of mining claims to land.”
The report makes a number of recommendations for change to protect the Boreal:
- Aboriginal rights to land and natural resources must be consistently recognized and Aboriginal peoples engaged in decision-making early and equally;
- Mineral rights must be granted through a planning process that considers a variety of possible land uses and their compatibility;
- Environmental assessments must be comprehensive and must effectively evaluate projects and policies from the perspective of long-term sustainability; and
- Regulations and pollution limits must be based on protecting human health and the environment; monitoring for environmental effects and compliance ensuring effective implementation.
- Governments must hold mining companies responsible for remediating the entire mine site at closure, including the mine itself as well as the mine’s infrastructure, wastes, and economic footprint.
The report and an expanded executive summary are available on line here and at www.northwatch.org.
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