Mine Waste in Canada: A Growing Liability

In June 2020, we were invited as one of the keynote speakers to a strategy session to “Re-imagine the National Orphaned and Abandoned Mine Initiative (NOAMI).” NOAMI is a multijurisdictional federal/provincial/territorial initiative which aims to provide guidance on best practices and policies to address the growing liability of mine waste sites to Canada’s Energy and Mines Minister Conference. Here were some of our main recommendations:

Canada needs a National Strategy & Action Plan with clear and ambitious goals to:

  1. Reduce mine waste generated
    • Policies to reduce the primary extraction & use of resources: prioritize low carbon/low energy/low material solutions, especially in the transportation, housing, and urban sectors;
    • Increase Canada’s mineral efficiency (e.g. recycling, circular economy, etc.)
  1. End abandoned mine waste sites in Canada
    • Zero new abandoned sites by 2025
    • 100% of abandoned sites secured by 2030
    • A 20+ billion government-industry fund in support of provinces & territories
  1. Strengthen financial assurance & enforce the polluters-pay principle
    • Strong national standard on financial bonding for site closure & remediation
    • Strengthen insurance coverage requirements for accidental damages and mine waste spills, including a mandatory industry-funded national insurance pool
  1. Strengthen oversight of mine waste sites
    • Strengthen laws and regulations
    • Strengthen the public service’s expertise, resources, and mandate
    • Support independent oversight initiatives, such as independent regional agencies, Indigenous Guardian Programs, and Independent Tailings Review Boards

See the full presentation here and see our blog on this topic here.