Mining companies are abusing a little-known loophole to avoid cleanup

The Breach

Miners across Canada are using a legally undefined status known as ‘care and maintenance’ to dodge responsibility for environmental liabilities

Written by Nick Gottlieb, The Breach

Imagine you own a coal mine in British Columbia. (Yes, governments in Canada are still approving new coal mines.)

Over the last three decades, you’ve made a bucket-load of money stripping the top off a mountain, and now you’re sitting on a pile of environmental liabilities that threaten to eat into your profits.

You have two choices. You could spend millions of dollars on a process known as reclamation, stabilizing hazardous waste and restoring the site to some semblance of its former ecological value, which is what you committed to when you opened the mine. 

Or, you could declare the mine to be in “care and maintenance,” a status that is accepted as standard by most jurisdictions, despite the fact that it lacks a formal legal definition.

The status has very little to do with actual care or maintenance. It might more accurately be described as “abandonment and neglect,” but that wouldn’t sound nearly as elegant.


Read the full article here.