Monday, July 20, 2015
(Halifax) While Energy & 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 today 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.
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.
The Expert 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: “The Panel does not accept the concept of a tolerable failure rate for tailings dams. To do so, no matter how small, would institutionalize failure. First Nations will not accept this, the public will not permit it, government will not allow it, and the mining industry will not survive it.”
In the wake of the Mount Polley disaster, the British Columbia 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 released today urge 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 (see full recommendations in the letter attached).
For information in Canada:
- MiningWatch Canada (English/Français): 514-708-0134
- British Columbia Fair Mining Collaborative (English): 250-871-3627
- Ontarians for a Just and Accountable Mineral Strategy (English): 613-795-5710
- Coalition Québec meilleure mine (Français): 418-570-3497
For information in the USA and internationally:
- Earthworks: 406-546-8386
- Southeast Alaska Conservation Council: 907-957-1007