Ontario Nature is urging the Government of Ontario to withdraw the proposed amendments to the Mining Act, which will increase the likelihood of significantly harming the environment and surrounding communities.
In response to this alarming proposal, Ontario Nature launched an Action Alert to raise awareness and voice opposition.
The threats the amendments pause
These changes will weaken existing environmental protection and rehabilitation requirements under the guise of improving efficiency and reducing administrative burden.
According to MiningWatch Canada, the proposed Mining Act changes would:
- Reduce requirements for mining companies to post bonds or other financial securities to cover clean-up costs after a mine closes;
- Allow companies to approve their own closure and rehabilitation plans, without government review or approval;
- Allow companies to begin operations before having comprehensive mine closure plans in place; and
- Lower standards for rehabilitation by allowing “alternate” uses, conditions or infrastructure to remain on the site after closure.
What this means for the environment
Currently, mining projects in Ontario are not required to undergo environmental assessments. Measures regarding the projects’ environmental impact are largely addressed through closure and rehabilitation plans and financial assurances.
Weakening these requirements essentially downloads the environmental, social and financial risks to the public.
The Auditor General of Ontario’s 2015 report states that mining activities can negatively affect groundwater and surface water, soil, air quality, plants and animals, with serious implications for public health and safety.
There are more than 4,400 known abandoned mines in Ontario, with over 15,000 known mine hazards.
The proposed Mining Act changes would place health and financial burdens on local communities and taxpayers, while mining companies reap the profits.
Thoughts from the executives
“This is yet another example of the Government of Ontario attempting to ram through development-friendly proposals that will benefit large corporations under the guise of fixing existing policies and backlogs,” said Corina Brdar, Ontario Nature’s Conservation Policy and Planning Manager.
“Given their serious ecological and carbon footprint and impact on Indigenous communities, mining projects require careful, long-term planning.”
Mining development in Ontario must proceed only with comprehensive plans for closure and rehabilitation in place, financial assurances that fully cover environmental and health liabilities, as well as the free, prior and informed consent of affected Indigenous communities.
To voice your concern, you can sign Ontario nature’s Action Alert (ontarionature.org/mining-act) urging the Government of Ontario to withdraw these dangerous proposed amendments.
The deadline for public comment through the Environmental Registry of Ontario is April 16, 2023 (ERO# 019-6715).