MAC: Mines and Communities

Canada: New Brunswick regulations protect lakes from becoming mining waste dumps

Published by MAC on 2008-10-27
Source: New Brunswick Environment Network Mining Caucus & (2008-10-23)

Fredericton, New Brunswick - Environmental groups welcome confirmation from the government of New Brunswick that lakes in the province are protected from becoming mine waste disposal sites.

"Currently, eleven natural water bodies across Canada, all of them fish bearing, are slated for imminent destruction. However, because of New Brunswick's Water Classification Regulations that protect New Brunswick lakes and prohibits deposition of deleterious substances into them, our lakes are currently protected from mine waste disposal," stated Tracy Glynn, Forest Campaigner at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and member of the N.B. Environment Network Mining Caucus.

New Brunswick, as well as Quebec and the United States, have regulations that effectively prohibit the practice. The Canadian Federal government catered to the mining industry in 2002 when it amended the Metal and Mines Effluent Regulations under the Fisheries Act to allow natural bodies of water to be reclassified as "tailings impoundment areas."

Canada is becoming a more attractive place for many mining companies because using a lake for waste disposal is millions of dollars cheaper than constructing a tailings pond.

"Canada should not be providing the mining industry with unaccounted subsidies by sacrificing our precious lakes and rivers for mine waste disposal," says Catherine Coumans, Research Coordinator with MiningWatch Canada. "Destroying natural water ecosystems is clearly not sustainable development and it is not even good practice in mine waste disposal."

"The legacy being allowed to occur in and under the waters of our Canadian lakes is shameful. It is our hope, that the Federal Government will take notice of the commendable effort by New Brunswick and Quebec to protect their lakes and that the Federal regulators will adhere to the principles of true sustainable development and stop giving approval to mining companies to use our lakes and freshwater ecosystems for storing mine waste. It is also our hope that the other Canadian Provinces will move quickly to put in place regulations that protect these critical lake ecosystems and ensure that they remain intact now and for future generations," says Brenda Kelley, Bathurst Sustainable Development and member of the NBEN Mining Caucus.

For more information:

Tracy Glynn, Conservation Council of New Brunswick and member of the NBEN Mining Caucus, (506) 458-8747

Brenda Kelley, Bathurst Sustainable Development and member of the NBEN Mining Caucus, (506) 548-2106

Catherine Coumans, Mining Watch Canada, (613) 569-3439

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