Recommendations for Action:
Multi-Stakeholder Workshop on Orphaned/Abandoned Mines in Canada
In June 2001, a workshop was held in Winnipeg to review the issue of orphaned/abandoned mine sites and identify processes for moving forward. The 63 attendees represented 12 provinces and territories; 7 NGO groups; 5 First Nations; 5 federal government departments, offices and boards; 7 mining companies; 5 mining industry associations; 3 communities; 3 consultants and 1 academic. The group developed consensus, guiding principles and recommendations for Ministers' to consider at the 2001 Mines Ministers Conference.
- The remediation of orphaned/abandoned mine sites must be based on concern for public health and safety, respect for ecological integrity, and sustainable development;
- All work currently ongoing with respect to inventory building and remediation must continue to be based on sound science and good communication among all parties;
- Work toward eliminating future abandonments must continue, including the tightening of regulatory approaches;
- Implement the "polluter pays" principle;
- Targeted end-use and reclamation standards must be acceptable to local communities;
- Although the objective must be comprehensive reclamation of all sites, the approach must be cost-effective and based on an acceptable method of prioritizing sites;
- Transparency and disclosure must be present in all decision-making processes;
- Encompass the notion of "fairness" in all endeavours.
It is recommended that a national multi-stakeholder advisory committee be formed and funded to address the following issues/initiatives and report back to Mines Ministers in 2002.
- Developing capacity for a national inventory of active, closed, and orphaned/abandoned mine sites based on compatible inventories in each province and territory, and including a nationally acceptable categorization and priority-ranking system;
- Engaging other relevant federal, provincial and territorial departments and ministries;
- Developing a plan to foster community involvement in decision-making about closure and reclamation standards, and to ensure that targeted end-use and reclamation standards are acceptable to local communities;
- Developing a plan to foster transparency and disclosure in all processes;
- Developing a plan for shared responsibility and stewardship where ownership cannot be established;
- Evaluating the efficacy of approaches including: "Good Samaritan legislation", "permit-blocking", "non-compliance registries", "allocative" vs. "joint and several liability";
- Evaluating models and mechanisms to pay for the remediation of orphaned/abandoned sites, including insurance options and contingency funds;
- Securing appropriate funding for the above, at a level to be determined by IGWG and other stakeholders by November 2001.
With adequate resources and resolve, significant progress can be made in the assessment, characterization and remediation/reclamation of orphaned and abandoned mine sites within 5-10 years.