Canadian Mines Ministers Conference in Halifax: Provinces & Territories Must Act To Avoid Mine Waste Disasters

(UPDATED with additional signatories July 13, 2015)(Halifax) While Energy & Mines Ministers from across Canada are meeting in Halifax for their annual conference, a coalition of more than 50 environmental, First Nations, and community organizations today sent a letter to all Canadian Mines Ministers urging them to take immediate action to assess and prevent the threat posed by hundreds of mine waste dams and impoundments in Canada.

The groups are pressuring provincial and territorial governments in Canada to respond to the lessons learned from the August 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster in British-Columbia – the biggest mining waste spill in Canadian history.

In January 2015, the Independent Expert Review Panel on the Mount Polley failure determined that current Canadian and global standards for mine waste disposal are fundamentally flawed and that future failures at other mines are simply a matter of time.

The Expert Panel firmly rejected any notion that “business as usual can continue,” and urged the industry and all regulators to change the way mining waste facilities are designed, operated, and regulated in order to avoid any future failures: “The Panel does not accept the concept of a tolerable failure rate for tailings dams. To do so, no matter how small, would institutionalize failure. First Nations will not accept this, the public will not permit it, government will not allow it, and the mining industry will not survive it.”

In the wake of the Mount Polley disaster, the British Columbia government called for an investigation of the safety of all 123 tailings dams within the province, and recently appointed a Mining Code Review Committee to determine how best to implement the panel’s recommendations. No other governments in Canada have yet announced similar measures.

The groups signing the letter released today urge all Canadian Mines Ministers to work together to support and implement all of the Mount Polley Independent Expert Review Panel’s recommendations in order to avoid any future massive mine waste spill in Canada (see full recommendations in the letter attached).

For information in Canada:
  • MiningWatch Canada (English/Français): 514-708-0134
  • British Columbia Fair Mining Collaborative (English): 250-871-3627
  • Ontarians for a Just and Accountable Mineral Strategy (English): 613-795-5710
  • Coalition Québec meilleure mine (Français): 418-570-3497
For information in the USA and internationally:
  • Earthworks: 406-546-8386
  • Southeast Alaska Conservation Council: 907-957-1007

Full list of signatories – as of July 23, 2015:

  1. Action Boréale, Québec
  2. Alaska Trollers Association, Alaska, USA
  3. Alberta Wilderness Association, Alberta
  4. Amnesty International Canada, Ontario
  5. BC First Nations Energy & Mining Council, British Columbia
  6. British Columbia Environmental Network, British Columbia
  7. Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, British Columbia
  8. Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Québec
  9. Canadian Parks & Wildeness Society, Ontario
  10. Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy, Wisconsin, USA
  11. Clayoquot Action, British Columbia
  12. Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan
  13. Coalition pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine, Québec
  14. Comité Mine de Rien de St-Camille, Québec
  15. Comité pour les Droits Humains en Amérique Latine, Québec
  16. Comité Vigilance de Malartic, Québec
  17. Commission Justice, Paix et Intégrité des Petites Soeurs de l’Assomption, Québec
  18. Committee for Future Generations, Saskatchewan
  19. Council for Public Health in Mining Communities, Yukon
  20. Council of Canadians-Quill Plains Chapter, Saskatchewan
  21. David Suzuki Foundation, British Columbia
  22. Earthworks, Washington, D.C., USA
  23. Fair Mining Collaborative, British Columbia
  24. Fondation Rivières, Québec
  25. Forest Protection Allies, British Columbia
  26. Fraser Riverkeeper, British Columbia
  27. Friends of the Clearwater, Indiana, USA
  28. Friends of the Earth Canada, Ontario
  29. Grand Riverkeeper, Labrador
  30. Groupe de Théologie Contextuelle Québécoise, Québec
  31. Groupe Solidarité Justice, Québec
  32. Inter Pares, Ontario
  33. Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-Operative, Saskatchewan
  34. Just One World, Ontario
  35. Justice Transnationales Extractives (JUSTE), Québec
  36. Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Ontario
  37. Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA), British Columbia
  38. Kamloops Moms for Clean Air, British Columbia
  39. Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment Society, British Columbia
  40. Kipawa Lake Preservation Society, Ontario
  41. Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network, Nova Scotia
  42. Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, Ontario
  43. MiningWatch Canada, Ontario
  44. Moose Cree First Nation, Ontario
  45. Northern Confluence, British Columbia
  46. Northwatch, Ontario
  47. Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Maryland, USA
  48. Okanogan Highlands Alliance, Washington, USA
  49. Ontarians for a Just and Accountable Mineral Strategy, Ontario
  50. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Ontario
  51. Patagonia Area Resource Alliance, Arizona, USA
  52. PEACE-N.B., New Brunswick
  53. Polaris Institute, Ontario
  54. Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Ontario
  55. Public Service Alliance of Canada, Ontario
  56. Quesnel River Watershed Alliance, British Columbia
  57. Rapide-Blanc Productions, Québec
  58. Regroupement Justice/Environnement des Sœurs de Sainte-Croix, Québec
  59. Regroupement pour la Sauvegarde de la Grande Baie de Sept-Îles, Québec
  60. Renewable Power Intelligent Choice, Saskatchewan
  61. Réseau Œcuménique Justice et Paix, Québec
  62. Rivers Without Borders, Washington, USA
  63. Rock Creek Alliance, Indiana, USA
  64. Save Our Sky Blue Waters, Minnesota, USA
  65. Science for Peace, Ontario
  66. Sept-Îles sans Uranium, Québec
  67. Sierra Club-British Columbia, British Columbia
  68. Société pour Vaincre la Pollution, Québec
  69. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska, USA
  70. Squamish Environment Society, British Columbia
  71. Thompson Institute of Environmental Studies, British Columbia
  72. Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association - Human Rights CommitteeBritish Columbia
  73. Thompson Watershed CoalitionBritish Columbia
  74. Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, British Columbia
  75. Watershed Watch Salmon Society, British Columbia
  76. Weber Sustainability Consulting, Utah, USA
  77. West Coast Environmental Law Association, British Columbia