WOM Geological Associates Inc. was retained by MiningWatch Canada
to undertake a survey of abandoned mine inventories in Canada.
Questionnaires were sent to provincial and federal agencies, requesting
information on inventories, number of abandoned mines, testing and
remediation completed, and current management policy.
"abandoned mine" describes sites where advanced exploration, mining or
mine production has ceased without rehabilitation having been completed.
Public health and safety, environmental safety and aesthetic concerns
are commonly associated with abandoned mines. Problems generally arise
from one or a combination of four factors: mine closure with little or
no reclamation, inadequate government policy, use of a site for a
purpose other than mining, and lost or missing site data.
to emergencies at abandoned mines presents a special challenge. The
preparation of an emergency response plan for abandoned and "closed out"
sites requires a chemical and physical stability assessment of all
features (tailings, crown pillars, etc.).
Detail of abandoned
mine inventory work in Canada varies widely. Although more than 10,139
abandoned mines are on file, it would appear that only 60% have been
field assessed. Many sites may be no more than shallow pits or trenches.
improvements to policy, legislation, practice and technology are
helping to bring an end to the legacy of abandoned mines. It is
recommended that future inventory work examine all mine site features,
not just toxic or waste materials. There is a need for risk assessment
standards and documentation standards. Emergency response should be a
component of mine reclamation plans. More resources are required to
complete the assessment of abandoned mines and for safe storage of the
data collected. The federal government must play a greater coordinating
role for abandoned mines and mine reclamation. A Canadian Abandoned
Mines Committee would lead to a greater sharing of information among all