Blog Entry

Sacrificing Another of Canada's Lakes to Mining

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

MiningWatch Canada is participating as one of four representatives of the Canadian Environmental Network (CEN) in a multi-stakeholder review of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMERs) hosted by Environment Canada (EC). The MMERs came into force on December 6, 2002. Most of the proposed amendments to the MMERs are relatively minor adjustments based on experience over 3 years. However, one of the critical amendments is the inclusion of a natural water body, Trout Lake, Newfoundland, under Schedule 2, effectively reclassifying this fish bearing lake as an industrial waste dump for mine tailings from Aur Resources' Duck Pond copper-zinc mine. This mine's operations will affect both brook trout and Atlantic salmon. The position of the CEN representatives and of MiningWatch Canada is that it is unacceptable that yet another Canadian lake be sacrificed for the sake of a new mine. Schedule 2 in the MMERs already accommodates, and will accommodate, lakes that have been used as tailings dumps historically. Our position is that this practice should be rightfully recognized as something belonging in the past that should not be considered for new mines. EC has made us aware that other new mines are expected to request the right to use a lake as a tailings impoundment in the near furture (the Meadowbank and Doris North projects in Nunavut, and the Kemess North and Red Chris projects in BC). CEN representatives are concerned that EC is fast-tracking the amendment process to meet Aur Resources's plans to start using Trout Lake for tailings in the summer of 2006. CEN representatives question whether their participation in the MMER review is sufficient for EC to claim that they have fulfilled the policy requirements for "national consultation". CEN delegates are questioning whether enough work was done to explore alternatives to the use of Trout Lake as a tailings impoundment.