OMA joined by MiningWatch Canada to Support Voluntary Rehabilitation Provisions in Ontario Mining Act

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

The Ontario Mining Association is finding allies in its support for a proposal to amend the Mining Act to include voluntary, or Good Samaritan, provisions for the reclamation of abandoned Crown-owned mine sites.  “We commend the Ontario Government for removing the legal barriers to the industry´s hands-on participation in the voluntary rehabilitation of Crown-held abandoned mine hazards by amending the Mining Act and proposing regulations that establish clear rules for undertaking voluntary rehabilitation projects,” said Adrianna Stech, OMA Manager of Environment and Sustainability. 

While it does include some qualifications, it is interesting to note that MiningWatch Canada has also come out in support of this proposed amendment.  “MiningWatch Canada is very concerned about this legacy and supports efforts that will see abandoned mine sites secured and rehabilitated so that current impacts and future risks are minimized,” said Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch.  “The proposed regulation to amend (a specific section of the Mining Act) O.Reg. 240/00 is intended to facilitate voluntary rehabilitation of mine sites by companies that have no legal requirement to do so.  We feel this is a helpful step in addressing a daunting challenge and welcome all contributions that the industry can make towards cleaning up its legacy of abandoned mines.”

The OMA works to support and improve the competitiveness of the mining sector in the province while representing companies engaged in the environmentally responsible exploration, production and processing of minerals in Ontario.  Today, planning and financial assurance for closure and rehabilitation are put in place before a mine opens.  OMA members approach each stage of the mining cycle in a safe, progressive and environmentally sound manner, with a view to returning the areas impacted by mining activity, as closely as possible, to their pre-mining state. 

The commitment of OMA members to long-term protection of the environment also extends to historical legacy issues.  OMA members have volunteered to assist in the rehabilitation of abandoned mine sites on Crown land for which the government holds liability. Although not legally responsible for cleaning up abandoned sites, the mining community is concerned about the environmental, health, safety and economic problems that these sites pose to communities and feel that it is a part of the stewardship mandate to contribute to their remediation.

These efforts appear to be gaining some recognition and acceptance from environmental groups such as MiningWatch Canada.   Proposals to clear the path for increased Good Samaritan activities by industry in this area are welcome.  “The OMA appreciates the recognition by the government to a unique environmental problem in this province, as well as the recognition of the industry´s willing role in helping to alleviate the historical legacy of mine hazards in Ontario,” said Ms. Stech.