HALIFAX—While Energy and Mines Ministers from across Canada are meeting in Halifax for their annual conference, a coalition of more than 50 environmental, First Nations, and community organizations have sent a letter to all Canadian Mines Ministers urging them to take immediate action to assess and prevent the threat posed by hundreds of mine waste dams and impoundments in Canada.
The groups are pressuring provincial and territorial governments in Canada to respond to the lessons learned from the August 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia – the biggest mining waste spill in Canadian history.
The organization said in January 2015, the Independent Expert Review Panel on the Mount Polley failure determined that current Canadian and global standards for mine waste disposal are fundamentally flawed and that future failures at other mines are simply a matter of time.
As a result, the panel firmly rejected any notion that “business as usual can continue,” and urged the industry and all regulators to change the way mining waste facilities are designed, operated, and regulated in order to avoid any future failures.
In addition, in the wake of the Mount Polley disaster, the B.C. government called for an investigation of the safety of all 123 tailings dams within the province, and recently appointed a Mining Code Review Committee to determine how best to implement the panel’s recommendations. No other governments in Canada have yet announced similar measures.
The groups signing the letter urged all Canadian Mines Ministers to work together to support and implement all of the Mount Polley Independent Expert Review Panel’s recommendations in order to avoid any future massive mine waste spill in Canada.