Finally! New National Inventory for Orphaned and Abandoned Mine Sites

(Ottawa) While MiningWatch Canada is pleased that the National Orphaned and Abandoned Mining Initiative (NOAMI) has finally released the first, pan-Canadian inventory of contaminated mine sites just this week, the organisation is also concerned that key provinces and territories are missing from the inventory.

“After 15 years, a quarter of million dollars spent, and significant efforts by participating provinces and territories, we are pleased that this nation-wide inventory is finally up and running. But we are also concerned that B.C., Yukon, and Quebec are missing from the inventory. We are pressing these governments to step up and join the rest of Canada in sharing their data,” states Ugo Lapointe, Canada program coordinator for MiningWatch Canada and a member of NOAMI’s steering committee.

Joan Kuyek, co-founder of MiningWatch and of NOAMI, and current Chair of Ontarians for a Just and Accountable Mineral Strategy (OJAMS), says, “It’s been a long time coming. The inventory is not complete, nor perfect, but it includes most provinces and territories in Canada and is an important step to ensure greater transparency and inform the public about the location of contaminated mine sites which may pose a threat to the environment, public health, and public safety.”

The new national inventory includes 4 ‘classes’ of sites based on their assessed level of risks to the environment, public health, and public safety (Class A, B, C and D). It also includes 6 ‘status’ categories for each site (‘inactive,’ ‘neglected,’ ‘abandoned,’ ‘legacy,’ ‘terminated’ and ‘unknown’). ‘Abandoned’ sites are those for which there is no longer a private owner and for which responsibility now rests on the provincial or federal government. ‘Legacy’ sites are those inactive sites for which a private owner still exists, but which has not been reclaimed and risks becoming abandoned. ‘Terminated’ sites are closed and reclaimed. The inventory does not include active or operating mines.

The public is invited to use and improve the inventory overtime by contacting representatives in each of their respective jurisdictions:

Over $9.1 billion in financial liability

Based on official data made available by governments, MiningWatch estimates the total liability for contaminated mining sites across Canada to be well above 9.1 billion dollars, including $3.1 billion for Ontario, $2.4 billion for B.C., $1.9 billion for Quebec and $1.7 billion in the northern territories (see Table 1 attached). Financial data are missing for central and Maritime provinces, which account for about a third of all mining production in Canada.

Established in 2002 with the support of Mines Ministers from across the country, NOAMI is a multi-stakeholder initiative including representatives from federal, provincial and territorial departments, as well as non-governmental organizations, to address issues related to inactive and abandoned mines in Canada.

For more information:

  • Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada, cell (514) 708-0134;
  • Joan Kuyek, cofounder of MiningWatch and NOAMI, and Chair of Ontarians for a Just and Accountable Mineral Strategy, cell (613) 795-5710