British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Post-closure stewardship of mine sites : institutional control in Saskatchewan : a case history Hovdebo, D. G.; Cunningham, K. E.; Kristoff, D. M.; Webster, M. S. 2015

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Mine Closure 2015 – A.B. Fourie, M. Tibbett, L. Sawatsky and D. van Zyl (eds) © 2015 InfoMine Inc., Canada, ISBN 978-0-9917905-9-3 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada 1 –D.G. Hovdebo  Kingsmere Resource Services Inc., Canada K.E. Cunningham  Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy, Mineral Policy Branch, Canada D.M. Kristoff  Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment, Hazmat and Impacted Sites, Canada M.S. Webster  Cameco Corporation, Canada  Environmental practices and regulations have advanced significantly since Canadian mine operations were developed in the early 1900s and now cover all aspects of construction and operation. Similarly, most jurisdictions around the world now require mining operations to prepare closure plans and to post a bond or other financial assurance of sufficient value to cover the cost of closure from the time a mine is first approved. However, few jurisdictions have developed a formal institutional control management framework that provides for custodial transfer and effective long-term stewardship of sites once the operator has fulfilled its closure obligations and is eligible for release from further financial bonding (closed sites). Post-closure management of such sites is an issue that has been identified by the public, industry, and government stakeholders. The Province of Saskatchewan successfully undertook the processes necessary to develop a formal, effective institutional control program (ICP) that defines the conditions under which it will accept custodial responsibility for closed mine sites and provide for the long-term stewardship of each site. The process was undertaken by a working group led by a consultant and composed of representatives from the Executive Council, Ministries of Environment, Energy and Resources, Northern Affairs, Justice, and Finance. It was initiated in 2005 with a comprehensive assessment of policy and legislative requirements and the risks and liabilities associated with undertaking such a program. This process also involved extensive consultations with industry, Aboriginal traditional users, and other stakeholders in order to secure their input, inclusion, and support. The entire process was completed with the promulgation of the Reclaimed Industrial Sites Act (RISA) and associated regulations in 2007 and the formal acceptance of the first mine sites in 2009. The Saskatchewan ICP addresses all aspects of conventional closed mines as well as the uranium-specific issues of radioactive waste management, including those defined in the articles of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, all applicable provincial acts and regulations, and the federal Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). The program includes a formal, publically accessible registry and document repository. It has been designed to be revenue neutral and sustainable and to ensure that future generations are not burdened with the costs of the long-term monitoring and maintenance of former mine sites in the province. In addition, the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment now includes the cost for transferring a closed site into the ICP as a component of the financial assurance required for operating sites.  Since its inception, the Saskatchewan ICP has accepted one gold mine/mill and five uranium mine sites into the institutional control registry and has completed the first of the requisite scheduled inspections of each registered site. This case history describes the actions and process used to develop the program, discusses the challenges encountered, and summarises the outcomes of the creation of a sustainable formal institutional control management framework in Saskatchewan. Post-closure stewardship of mine sites: institutional control in Saskatchewan D.G. Hovdebo, K.E. Cunningham, D.M. Kristoff, and M.S. Webster 2 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada For more than two decades, the Government of Saskatchewan had consistently stated that, once the operator of a mining facility had fulfilled its decommissioning and reclamation obligations and demonstrated, by transition phase monitoring, that its site was chemically and physically stable, the government would accept custodial responsibility of the property. The province’s development of an institutional control program (ICP) fulfilled that commitment and provides the regulatory framework to manage that responsibility. In the context of the Saskatchewan Institutional Control Program (ICP), institutional control consists of those actions, mechanisms, and arrangements implemented in order to maintain control or knowledge of a remediated site after project closure and to transfer custody to some form of responsible authority or custodian.  The primary objectives of the Saskatchewan ICP are as follows:  Protect human health and safety;  Protect the environment;  Permanently preserve knowledge of the site including all relevant documentation;  Ensure, to the extent possible, that future generations are not burdened with the costs of long-term monitoring and maintenance following decommissioning and reclamation activities;   Be sustainable; and  Recognise and respect federal jurisdiction, regulatory roles, and responsibilities for national and international obligations. In Saskatchewan, the responsible custodian under the ICP is the ministry or ministries assigned responsibility for implementing and managing the program. The legislative authority to implement and enforce the ICP is the Reclaimed Industrial Sites Act (RISA) and the Reclaimed Industrial Sites Regulations (RISR). These authorities have been designed to allow one or more ministers and their respective ministries to be granted that responsibility. To date, Saskatchewan Energy and Resources (currently within the Ministry of the Economy) is the provincial ministry that has been assigned the responsibility for managing the ICP. Activities undertaken by the custodian under the ICP can range from permanently recording the location of a remediated site to conducting regular inspections, sampling, and maintaining the property. The custodian also has the authority to address unforeseen events that could potentially arise at a particular site. It must be noted that the ICP does not manage the responsibility for the decommissioning and reclamation regulatory process; it manages the steps that follow.  A site cannot be accepted into the ICP until remediation activities have taken place and regulatory authorities have issued a release (discussed below). The Saskatchewan ICP is specific to, and restricted to, remediated mine and/or mill sites on provincial Crown land. However, the institutional control framework has been designed to manage a broader scope of sites, such as private land or other types of industrial sites. Throughout the life of a mine in Saskatchewan — from construction through operations to final remediation — mine/mill operations are carefully governed under environmental regulations, beginning with an environmental assessment. The environmental assessment process for a proposed mine and/or mill, administered by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, requires the proponent to include a conceptual decommissioning and reclamation plan in its environmental impact statement. A proposed mine and/or mill may also be required to undergo a review under federal regulation through the Canadian Environmental Keynotes and Plenaries Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada 3 Assessment Agency (CEAA). Uranium mines and/or mills may also be required to undergo a review through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Further information on the environmental approval process is available from Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, the CEAA, and the CNSC. Once ministry approval for the proposed mine and/or mill is received under the Environmental Assessment Act, the Mineral Industry Environmental Protection Regulations, 1996, issued pursuant to the Environmental Management and Protection Act, (EMPA), require any person seeking an approval to operate a pollutant control facility, mine, or mill to submit a detailed decommissioning and reclamation plan; this must include a post-closure transitional phase monitoring plan for review and approval by the minister. Once the plan has been approved, the operator is required to post a financial assurance instrument of sufficient value to cover the cost of the decommissioning and reclamation. The same regulations require the operator of the facility to conduct a detailed review of the decommissioning plan and the financial assurance at least once every five years, whenever requested to do so by the minister, or within the 12 months preceding the permanent closure of a facility. A flowchart of the regulatory processes as they apply to final closure is presented in Figure 1. After mining has ceased and the operator has completed the approved decommissioning and reclamation activities, the site enters a period called “transition phase monitoring.” During this period, the operator is required to continue monitoring and maintaining the site as per the requirements in the plan at its own expense. The operator is required to maintain financial assurances sufficient to cover the cost of the remaining obligations outlined in the plan for the balance of the transitional period as well as a contingency for any unexpected occurrences. During this transition phase, the province and, in the case of uranium facilities, the CNSC continues to conduct periodic regulatory inspections and reviews of monitoring results. Also during this period, the operator continues to remain fully liable for any impacts the site may have on the environment, surrounding communities, and public safety, both provincially as per the requirements of EMPA and federally as per the requirements of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). If the site performs in accordance with the decommissioning and reclamation plan and achieves the predicted stability during the transition phase monitoring period, the operator may then make an Application for a Release from Decommissioning and Reclamation (Release) to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment (SE) in order to obtain a release from further monitoring and maintenance responsibilities and from the obligation to maintain financial assurances. Having received the Release, the operator may then proceed to apply for and receive a release from its surface lease (i.e., the surface tenure obligation). The release from the surface lease will allow the operator to make an application to transfer the property to the ICP for long-term stewardship. In Saskatchewan, mineral tenure and surface tenure are separate; this is not true for all jurisdictions. Post-closure stewardship of mine sites: institutional control in Saskatchewan D.G. Hovdebo, K.E. Cunningham, D.M. Kristoff, and M.S. Webster 4 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada  Keynotes and Plenaries Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada 5 The national and international regulatory framework surrounding the institutional control of radioactive wastes (and therefore uranium mining and milling facilities) has changed significantly since uranium was first mined. The Government of Canada is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United Nations, and is party to that body’s safeguards and protocols. In 1998, Canada became a contracting party to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management  (Convention). As a contracting party to the Convention, Canada is required to take steps to ensure that an appropriate institutional control framework is in place to address the long-term management of decommissioned uranium mine/mill wastes, including those in Saskatchewan. The responsible federal authority for the Government of Canada’s obligations under the Convention is the CNSC. The Government of Canada’s regulatory framework, as it applies to mining and milling facilities, is exercised through a number of departments and agencies and the legislation that empowers them. A site is required to meet the environmental objectives required by those authorities, in addition to provincial authorities, in completing its decommissioning and reclamation plans prior to a site being considered for entry into the ICP. Once a site has entered the ICP, it will be required to maintain those objectives. Federal authorities that provide objectives and regulatory oversight over the development of a mine or mill facility can include the following:  Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (environmental assessment);  Environment Canada (environmental monitoring);   Department of Fisheries and Oceans (mining effluent regulation); and  Human Resources Development Canada (health and safety). Canada has also promulgated the NSCA and associated regulatory framework as it applies to uranium mining/milling facilities. This grants constitutional jurisdictional authority over such facilities to the federal government. The responsible federal authority for the NSCA and Regulations is the CNSC. The Institutional Control Registry (Registry), in conjunction with the monitoring prescribed by the Registry, has been designed to be comparable to an active licence issued by the CNSC. The Registry has also been designed to meet Canada’s obligations under the IAEA’s Convention. The CNSC will decide on the exemption from licensing on a site-by-site basis. If a site holder does not receive consent for exemption from the CNSC, the site will not be accepted into the ICP and Registry. The development of the Saskatchewan ICP was initiated in 2005 with the establishment of an interdepartmental Institutional Control Working Group (ICWG) led by a consultant and composed of a consistent group of senior management-level representatives from the Executive Council, Departments of Environment, Energy and Resources, Northern Affairs, Justice, and Finance. The ICWG was granted approval in principle by the Provincial Executive Council to develop an institutional control management framework, undertake stakeholder consultation, and bring forward draft legislation and regulations for consideration by the Legislative Assembly. The representative from the Executive Council demonstrated the government’s commitment to the process and was charged with overseeing ICWG activity and providing regular updates to a select group of ministers of the Crown. The choice of the ICWG member departments was critical to the success of the process, as was the dedicated participation of a consistent, senior management-level member from each department in the working group’s activities. In making that choice, consideration was given to the mandate and responsibilities of each government department in order to ensure that all appropriate departments were at the ICWG table and privy to its deliberation from the onset. Not unexpectedly, a number of the ICWG’s participating departments Post-closure stewardship of mine sites: institutional control in Saskatchewan D.G. Hovdebo, K.E. Cunningham, D.M. Kristoff, and M.S. Webster 6 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada had little or no knowledge of or interaction with mineral development, mine operation and decommissioning, or environmental or engineering standards. Alternately, those departments familiar with these aspects often had a limited knowledge of how a government manages surface and mineral tenure on provincial Crown lands, drafts legislation, accounts for liability, or manages funds outside of the General Revenue Fund. The inclusion of a single, consistent representative from each department in the ICWG’s deliberation from the outset allowed each individual to fully understand and effectively communicate with his or her department on the issues arising from the development and implementation of the institutional control management framework.  Another key to the ICWG’s success was the existence in 2005 of a number of former uranium mine sites that had been successfully decommissioned and had undergone more than a decade of transition phase monitoring to demonstrate that they were chemically and physically stable. These sites offered concrete examples of sites for the working group to consider. The ability to use existing sites considered ready for transfer into an institutional control management framework significantly enhanced the ability of all of the members of the ICWG to identify, understand, and address potential issues during their deliberations. The first task undertaken by the ICWG was to conduct a comprehensive assessment of policy and legislative requirements, risks, and liabilities associated with undertaking such a program. This was followed by extensive consultations within government and a detailed review and consideration of Canada’s international obligations (particularly as they apply to the management of nuclear wastes) and all relevant federal and provincial legislations, regulations, guidelines, and objectives.  The ICWG then developed a detailed intergovernmental background paper, which fully outlined a proposed institutional control management framework and anticipated benefits, risks, and potential liabilities. Once the framework was reviewed and approved in principle by Cabinet, the ICWG proceeded to draft and publish a public discussion paper and entered consultations with a variety of stakeholders, both internal and external to government.  The public consultations were conducted during 2006. Key stakeholders included mining companies and related industries; northern communities; the North Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Committee (NSEQC), composed of representatives nominated by approximately 32 northern municipal and First Nations communities that are potentially impacted by northern mining operations; northern First Nations; Métis leaders and communities; federal regulators; and various environmental nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). Consultations included multiple public and northern meetings; meetings with federal regulators, in particular the CNSC; and the establishment of an industry/government working committee.  The results of the public consultations and the industry/government committee discussions were incorporated into the final development and implementation of the ICP. One important issue was that the ICP be governed by standalone legislation. Meetings and discussions between the ICWG and representatives of the mineral industry continued through 2006, culminating in the promulgation of the RISA and the RISR during the first quarter of 2007 to implement the ICP. The Reclaimed Industrial Sites Act (RISA) grants the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Resources (SME) the legislative power to establish the Institutional Control Program (ICP). The stated purposes of the ICP are as follows:  to set out the conditions by which the Government of Saskatchewan will accept responsibility for land that, in consequence of development and use, requires long-term monitoring and, in certain circumstances, maintenance;  to ensure that the required monitoring and maintenance are carried out on that land;  to provide a funding mechanism to cover costs associated with the monitoring and maintenance on that land; and Keynotes and Plenaries Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada 7  to ensure that certain records and information are preserved with respect to that land. (Saskatchewan Government, 2007) The ICP has two primary components, the Registry and the Institutional Control Funds, namely the Monitoring and Maintenance Fund (ICMMF) and the Unforeseen Events Fund (ICUEF). The RISR prescribe the conditions under which SME will accept a closed site into the ICP, the requirements of the ICP to monitor and maintain a closed site, the funding method, and the method for enforcing the preservation of records and information. A site holder wishing to initiate the transfer of a closed site into the ICP is required to submit an application, which describes the site, the results of the transition phase monitoring, and a detailed assessment of any remaining liabilities on the site, to SME. The documentation must also include site holder (corporate) information; the Release or proof of eligibility to be released from all licenses, permits, and leases; an IC monitoring and maintenance plan; and, when available, site-specific historical information. The application is subject to a review by SME with input from the Ministry of Environment in order to ensure that it is accurate and that all required documentation has been included. Assuming the application meets the ministry’s approval, the ministry will enter into discussion with the site holder to determine the amount to be deposited into the ICMMF and the ICUEF. Once the application is approved, the site holder is required to submit a registration fee and the prescribed fund deposits.  The monitoring and maintenance plan and the present value of the future costs associated with the monitoring and maintenance obligations will undergo a detailed review to ensure they are sufficient and appropriate to meet the long-term environmental, health, and safety objectives required of the closed site. Companies may find it beneficial to develop such plans as part of their detailed decommissioning and reclamation plans and submit them at the time of application for a Release. During the initial years of the ICP, the Registry does not anticipate employing full-time technical expertise to complete this review. SME will consult and act on the recommendations of Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and Saskatchewan Ministry of Finance in making the decision to accept a closed site into the Registry and in determining what the appropriate fund deposits will be for the site to be accepted. One of the prescribed conditions for acceptance into the Registry is that a site holder must have submitted a monitoring and maintenance plan that identifies both the monitoring and maintenance obligations that need to be undertaken once the site is accepted into the ICP and the present value of future costs associated with those obligations. SME has established the Institutional Control Monitoring and Maintenance Fund (ICMMF) and manages the funds as monies separate from the province’s General Revenue Fund. The site holder’s contribution to the ICMMF must be of a value to generate sufficient revenue to pay those future costs in perpetuity. The contribution is calculated based on the net present value of the obligation at a forecast inflation rate and on forecast investment return rates. The total ICMMF contribution is the sum of the individual contributions for each monitoring and maintenance obligation at the site. For a future cost that has been submitted in current dollars, the future value of an individual obligation in the year it occurs is calculated by applying the rate of inflation to the current dollar value. The rate of inflation is determined by SME in consultation with Saskatchewan Finance and assigned following an application by a site holder. The present method is to calculate the rate of inflation as a 10-year average based on annual values reported by the Bank of Canada.  The future dollar value of the obligation is then discounted back to current dollars based on a rate determined by the rate of return on the invested fund contribution and the number of years in the future that an obligation occurs. The rate of return is determined by SME and assigned following an application by a site holder. For the sites currently accepted, the rate was determined by SME in consultation with Saskatchewan Post-closure stewardship of mine sites: institutional control in Saskatchewan D.G. Hovdebo, K.E. Cunningham, D.M. Kristoff, and M.S. Webster 8 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada Finance and was established in reference to the inflation rate (i.e., Rate of Inflation + X%). The new Investment Advisory Committee may fulfil the Saskatchewan Finance role for future sites.  SME manages the ICMMF in its entirety, but each site-specific deposit on account is tracked individually. Responsibilities include maintenance costs anticipated at the time the closed site is accepted into the ICP, and for any other general costs that should have reasonably been anticipated at the time the closed site was accepted into the ICP, and costs incurred for the purpose of determining the required monitoring and maintenance of the closed site. SME can only access site-specific monies for site-specific monitoring and maintenance and cannot access monies on deposit for one site to fund expenditures at a separate (different) site.  A comprehensive monitoring and maintenance plan with sound cost estimates significantly reduces the risk of a cost overrun on monitoring and maintenance activities. Should such an event occur, a root-cause analysis should be performed to determine cause and responsibility. Funding sources for such events may include the Institutional Control Unforeseen Events Fund (ICUEF), a financial assurance, the former site holder, or the province.  Understandably, concerns were raised by stakeholders, in particular the mineral industry, that the fund should be prudently managed and that their site-specific monies not expended elsewhere, subjecting them to cost liabilities at a future date after having made initial deposits in good faith.  The RISA grants SME the authority to invest monies in an account of the ICMMF, which are not presently required for the purposes of that account, in any security or class of securities authorised for investment pursuant to the Pension Benefits Act, 1992. SME has established an Institutional Control Funds Investment Advisory Committee comprised of stakeholders including former site holders and industry representatives to provide investment advice, review, and recommendations to manage the monies. Once the fund accrues to a sufficient level to bear administrative costs of third-party management, the longer-term investment strategy will likely be to include a diversified portfolio of bonds, equities, and assets, prudently managed to meet investment objectives.  In addition to the contribution to the ICMMF, a site holder must include a contribution to the ICUEF. The contribution to the ICUEF must be of sufficient value to generate revenue to pay the costs of future unforeseen events and eventually release a site holder from a financial assurance requirement. The contribution is calculated as follows: 1. for a closed site without tailings or engineered structures, 10% of the Total ICMMF Contribution; and 2. for a closed site with tailings or engineered structures, 20% of the Total ICMMF Contribution. (Saskatchewan Government, 2007) The calculation and assignment of percentages was determined in negotiation with industry. In short, it is based on the assumption that a site with an engineered structure presents twice the risk of a site without such a structure and that the contribution should be at a sufficient monetary level to provide growth potential. It is difficult to accurately forecast or estimate the extent of unanticipated future costs at any individual decommissioned property. However, modern mine decommissioning and reclamation strategies in Saskatchewan are based on the implementation of passive control methods wherever possible. These methods significantly reduce the potential for such costs to arise. Unforeseen events could include such things as the failure of a containment dyke, the collapse of a pit wall, the premature degradation of a shaft cover, or a change in regulatory requirements. The ICUEF will fund these contingent events. However, a site holder cannot be granted complete absolution from site responsibility. The EMPA provides for absolute liability of a person responsible for a discharge to continue indefinitely. The authority to waive this liability does not rest with the Minister of Environment as no such authority is provided in the EMPA. It Keynotes and Plenaries Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada 9 is for this reason that neither the Minister of Environment nor the Minister of Economy can issue a deed of custodial transfer that states that the operator is completely absolved from responsibility for environmental contamination at a particular site. The ICP will limit the province’s liability to be held responsible for future clean-up costs arising from unforeseen circumstances or company dissolution that are not provided for in EMPA or identified in the Application for Release from Decommissioning and Reclamation approved by Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and upon which the basis of the custodial transfer was undertaken. Only in the case of the original operator no longer being in existence would such costs have to be addressed by public means. As with the ICMMF, concerns were raised by stakeholders and in particular, industry site holders, that the money be prudently managed. The ICUEF is, in effect, a “rainy day fund” to manage the cost contingencies of unforeseen events. Notably, this fund, with no forecast withdrawal, can reach significant levels in the future. With continued deposits and interest earnings from sound financial management, the province and stakeholders agree that the fund could reach significant levels in the future such that further financial assurance or deposits will not be required. While SME will manage the ICUEF in its entirety, unlike the ICMMF, it will not be tracked by individual site-specific monetary deposit.  A financial assurance requirement has been implemented to minimise the ICP’s financial risk during the initial years, while the ICUEF is building in value. In negotiation with industry, while implementing a condition to reduce its risk, the province also took steps to minimise the financial impact on good corporate citizens through the acceptance of corporate guarantees. It is understood that, once the ICUEF has reached a sufficient level to manage the total cost for unforeseen contingent events, the financial assurance requirement will be removed. For SME to accept a closed site into the ICP and thus, the Registry, a site holder must post a financial assurance in an amount equal to the cost of a maximum failure event that could occur at the closed site or any such reduced amount agreed on by the minister. The maximum failure event is to be identified in the monitoring and maintenance plan submitted to the minister in the application for entry into the Registry. The maximum failure event is site specific and typically references a failure of the largest engineered structure that exists on the site. The form of an acceptable assurance is prescribed in the RISR and must be of one of the following types: 1. cash; 2. cheques and negotiable instruments; 3. government bonds, government guaranteed bonds, debentures, term deposits, certificates of deposit, trust certificates or investment certificates; 4. corporate guarantees, irrevocable letters of credit, performance bonds or surety bonds; and 5. any other financial instrument or security that is acceptable to the minister.  (Saskatchewan Government, 2007) For a financial assurance that is posted as a corporate guarantee, the minister requires that the site holder providing that corporate guarantee have a sufficient financial credit rating to ensure the ability to cover the amount of the assurance. Acceptable investment-grade credit ratings are defined as the rating assigned by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, or Dominion Bond Rating Service of, respectively, BBB/Baa3/BBB(low) or higher. A financial assurance for a specific site is to be reviewed approximately once every five years to determine whether it continues to be required and at what level. In conducting the review, the Registry shall consider: the condition of the closed site, the amount estimated as standing to the credit of the closed site in the ICMMF, and the financial solvency of the former site holder. The Registry can only access the financial assurance under two conditions: 1) if the minister is obligated to undertake significant maintenance obligations at the site and withdrawing the funds for the required maintenance will unduly deplete the amount standing to the credit of the closed site in the ICMMF or the Post-closure stewardship of mine sites: institutional control in Saskatchewan D.G. Hovdebo, K.E. Cunningham, D.M. Kristoff, and M.S. Webster 10 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada ICUEF or 2) if the minister determines that the security provided as part of the assurance fund is about to expire and that no replacement security has been provided. The final cost component of the ICP is the prescribed registration fee of $500. This is a fixed fee prescribed in the RISR and is designed to provide for processing of applications, document transfer, and program administration. The total cost to transfer a site to the Registry will be site specific and largely based on the type and condition of the various aspects and residual risks present on the site; however, the cost for most sites is anticipated to be under C$ 100,000. The ICMMF and the ICUEF must be managed openly and transparently. As they are provincial government-managed funds, the Provincial Auditor is required to audit the accounts and transactions and table an annual report on the business of the funds and a financial statement in each fiscal year. In this manner, the information is available for public and stakeholder review. The legislation also requires for SME to do a review of the legislation after five years and for the Registry to prepare a report, to be known as the Institutional Control Report, every five years identifying the condition of all closed sites accepted into the ICP. As with the Registry records, this report is made available for public and other jurisdictional access. The Institutional Control Registry (Registry) is a primary component of the ICP. The Registry has been implemented by SME and is a record and information archive for accepted sites. It is responsible for ensuring that monitoring and maintenance is performed as prescribed and for enforcing compliance with established land use restrictions. It is also a portal for public access to information and is responsible for reporting on all its activities to national and international regulatory authorities. The RISR require the Registry, as a record and information archive, to secure and maintain certain prescribed records and information. At a minimum, each site holder must submit the following records and information:  1. location of the closed site; 2. identification of the final holder of the closed site; 3. a description of the closed site and the activities that were conducted on the closed site; 4. the release from decommissioning and reclamation issued pursuant to the Mineral Industry Environmental Protection Regulations, 1996; 5. a reference to and the location of the documents provided by the site holder pursuant to the Mineral Industry Environmental Protection Regulations, 1996 for the purposes of applying for the release mentioned in clause (d), including a reference to and the location of a full and complete set of ‘as-built’ reports; 6. a description of the monitoring and maintenance obligations; 7. a reference to and the location of the documentation provided to the site holder when the site holder is released from any surface lease agreement that governed the closed site; Keynotes and Plenaries Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada 11 8. in the case of a closed site that was a uranium facility, a reference to and the location of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission licensing documentation and all Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission decisions related to the closed site; 9. a notation of the location of all documentation that the minister considers applicable to the closed site and that is in the control of the site holder; and 10. surface and underground plans submitted pursuant to the Mines Regulations, 2003 or any predecessor to those regulations.  (Saskatchewan Government, 2007) Currently, a site holder’s submission is not specifically required to include all historical records and data previously submitted to a government department, agency, or commission and retained on file, as some historic records may have been submitted by a previous site owner or are department specific. That information is to be submitted by the responsible government department, agency, or commission to the Registry. In addition, as defined in the RISR, the Government of Saskatchewan, the Government of Canada or any agency or commission of those governments is required to submit the following items to the Registry: 1. notation of the location of all documentation that the minister considers applicable to the closed site and is in control of the relevant Government, agency or commission; 2. a description from the department of the Government of Saskatchewan responsible for the management of the surface lands that are part of the closed site and that are owned by the Government of Saskatchewan, identifying and specifying any surface land use restrictions for the closed site; 3. a description from the department of the Government of Saskatchewan responsible for the management of mineral lands that are part of the closed site and that are owned by the Government of Saskatchewan, identifying and specifying any mineral disposition restrictions for the closed site; 4. in the case of closed site that was a uranium facility, a reference to and location of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission licensing documentation and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission decisions related to the closed site; 5. a note indicating whether the property is registered as a land disposition administered by the minister responsible for the Environmental Management and Protection Act;  6. reference to and location of any final surface lease agreement respecting the closed site provided by the department of the Government of Saskatchewan responsible for the management of the surface land; and  7. a copy of any surface, underground and final closure plans respecting the closed site that are provided to any department of the Government of Saskatchewan responsible for management of those plans.  (Saskatchewan Government, 2007) The submission of these government-retained historical records may take the form of a letter identifying the applicable records for which that agency is responsible (i.e., a list and location); however, that agency is expected to maintain those records in perpetuity. Alternately, the submission may take the form of a physical transfer of documentation should the agency not wish to maintain the requisite records. Responsibility for records already archived must be transferred to the Registry. The Registry is required to monitor and maintain a closed site in accordance with the monitoring and maintenance plan as submitted by the site holder and approved as a condition of acceptance into the ICP. As Post-closure stewardship of mine sites: institutional control in Saskatchewan D.G. Hovdebo, K.E. Cunningham, D.M. Kristoff, and M.S. Webster 12 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada the site matures, those monitoring requirements may be amended based on the site having proven the ability to further stabilise at or below environmental and safety regulatory objectives and standards.  The Registry is also required to carry out all maintenance on sites within the Registry to ensure the sites continue to meet environment and safety regulatory objectives. For example, this could include the replacement of a concrete cap on a mine shaft once every 75 years (funded by the ICMMF), the repair of a containment dyke following a once-in-a-thousand-year rainfall (funded by the ICUEF), or the maintenance of long-term revegetation and reclamation objectives.  In carrying out the monitoring and maintenance responsibilities when there is a limited number of sites, the Registry has chosen not to employ full-time qualified personnel but to retain the services of private technical, professional, or other adviser, specialist, or consultant personnel. The Registry will also provide a copy of monitoring reports to the original site holder that completed the original decommissioning to further ensure the site is performing as planned and that the Registry has undertaken any corrective maintenance prior to failure of engineered structures. The Registry will access the appropriate account of the ICMMF or, as the case requires, the ICUEF for payment of the performance of those services. At the time of application into the ICP, a site holder is required to relinquish the associated surface lease. For sites in northern Saskatchewan, the lease will have been negotiated by the Ministry of First Nation and Métis Relations (Northern Affairs). Based on a site’s operational use and the remediation measures incorporated in the decommissioning and reclamation plan, it may be necessary to restrict future surface use to ensure the stability and function of engineered structures. As an example, it would not be prudent to allow an access road to be built across a decommissioned engineered tailings facility. The Registry may restrict or prohibit access to a closed site that has been accepted into the ICP if it is considered to be in the public interest. The land use restrictions are to be determined at the time an application is made to enter a site into the ICP, and the Registry will retain the authority to enforce those restrictions. The surface responsibility will revert back to the management of Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment or a delegated authority on surrender of the lease. The ministry or delegated authority will have the responsibility of permitting permissible land use subject to the land use restrictions on record within the Registry. Similarly at the time of application into the ICP, a site holder is required to relinquish the associated mineral dispositions, currently managed by SME. Based on the engineered structures incorporated in the remediation of the site, it may prove necessary to the public interest to restrict future mineral activities such as exploration on a site. When required, SME intends to establish a mineral reserve at a closed site that in effect prevents future dispositions being issued. A reserve can be established at the time of application into the ICP, when a site holder is required to relinquish the associated mineral rights. In May 2009, the former Contact Lake gold mine/mill site was the first to be accepted into the ICP. Five other former uranium mine sites were subsequently accepted into the ICP later the same year. All six sites were released or exempted from further decommissioning and reclamation obligations by the applicable regulatory authorities; the applications into the ICP were reviewed and accepted, and the sites were entered into the Registry. The necessary components for these sites to be accepted into the ICP were provided, and the coordination between industry and the appropriate regulatory bodies, including several federal regulatory organisations and numerous different provincial ministries and branches, was unprecedented. The success and relatively short timeline for the coordination of release, exemption, and acceptance into the ICP was the result of the commitment to the process by industry, its representatives, and the regulatory authorities. The commitment and determination of a relatively small group of people to successfully initiate and drive this process to completion should be recognised. Keynotes and Plenaries Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada 13 A description of the requirements for application, such as details of the site, the site holder information, operational history, copies of all regulatory approvals, the monitoring and maintenance plan, the identification of all engineered structures, and all financial obligations, have been discussed. The first six properties’ applications were extensively reviewed and amended so that they did meet the requirements as outlined. However, now that the six initial sites have been accepted and the first scheduled inspection/monitoring program has been completed, the application requirements and review process should ensure that some additional details are included. Specifically, future applications must include a detailed list and description of all aspects and features of the site to be monitored and inspected. Since the inspections will generally be several years apart and will potentially be conducted by personnel unfamiliar with the application, the need for a detailed identification and description of all elements to be inspected (and specifically what components of each element must be examined) is imperative. For example, while an adit or horizontal underground mine working may be identified and summarised in an original application, details of the margins of the closure method may not have been provided in the application because they appeared to be relatively obvious at the time of closure. However, as a result of natural revegetation, normal rock face slumping, and the inspectors’ lack of experience with the site, the preliminary indicators of the failure of the closure method could be missed. The inclusion of physical markers, detailed maps, global positioning system information, photographic evidence, and additional details of the closure methods will greatly reduce subjectivity and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the inspection. Other examples of site features that may require additional details in the original application include waste rock slumping, location of seeps or other drainage paths, waste disposal grounds, and features that may slowly deteriorate and potentially cause concern in the long term. In addition to adequate descriptions of the physical features of the site, access to all site-specific documentation is essential. Currently, the Registry requires only the notation of the location of all government-retained documentation considered applicable to the closed site. Similarly, as a result of the extended timeframe between inspections or acceptance into the registry, personnel familiar with the site and even the ICP may be limited. As a result, a comprehensive review of the site documentation will be required. If access to this information is difficult for the reviewer, the cost and efficiency of the review, the inspection, and the overall results will be restricted. For example, if historic operation information or environmental sampling results are difficult to locate, this may cause difficulty in conducting an effective inspection and comparing current analytical results to historical values. Consideration is being given to alternate methods to improve the accessibility and availability of this documentation to the Registry in order to facilitate review prior to future scheduled inspections. Another lesson learned is that, for the long-term sustainability of the program and funds, investment returns and costs of monitoring and maintenance may vary significantly in future years. For example, the ICP did not anticipate the stock market crash of 2008. Such incidents highlight the value of investment advisory committees and the importance of a review of the RISA and of funding, particularly during the initial years. The Province of Saskatchewan successfully undertook the processes necessary to develop a formal, effective institutional control program (ICP) that defines the conditions under which it will accept custodial responsibility and long-term stewardship of closed mine sites once the operator has fulfilled its decommissioning and reclamation obligations and demonstrated that the site is chemically and physically stable. The process was undertaken by a working group composed of representatives from the five different ministries and an executive council, which completed a comprehensive assessment of policy and legislative requirements and the risks and liabilities associated with undertaking such a program and undertook extensive consultations with industry, Aboriginal traditional users, and other stakeholders in order to secure their input, inclusion, and support.  The primary objectives of the ICP are to do the following:  Protect human health and safety; Post-closure stewardship of mine sites: institutional control in Saskatchewan D.G. Hovdebo, K.E. Cunningham, D.M. Kristoff, and M.S. Webster 14 Mine Closure 2015, Vancouver, Canada  Protect the environment;  Permanently preserve knowledge of the site including all relevant documentation;  Ensure, to the extent possible, that future generations are not burdened with the costs of long-term monitoring and maintenance following decommissioning and reclamation activities;   Be sustainable; and  Recognise and respect federal jurisdiction, regulatory roles and responsibilities for national and international obligations. The ICP has two primary components: the Registry and the Institutional Control Funds, namely the Monitoring and Maintenance Fund (ICMMF) and the Unforeseen Events Fund (ICUEF). The Reclaimed Industrial Sites Regulations (RISR) prescribe the conditions under which SME will accept a closed site into the ICP, the requirements of the ICP to monitor and maintain a closed site, the funding method, and the method for enforcing the preservation of records and information. It addresses all aspects of conventional closed mines, as well as uranium-specific issues of radioactive waste management, including those defined in the articles of the IAEA’s Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, all applicable provincial acts and regulations, and the federal Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). The program includes a formal, publically accessible registry and document repository, has been designed to be revenue neutral and sustainable, and ensures that future generations are not burdened with the costs of the long-term monitoring and maintenance of former mine sites in the province.  Since its inception, the Saskatchewan ICP has accepted one gold mine/mill and five uranium mine sites into the IC Registry and has completed the first of the requisite scheduled inspections of each registered site. As with any program, as SME gains experience, it is expected to regularly assess the program with input from other ministries and to explore ways to further define and improve the approval process and review funding levels, investment management, and emergent issues such as a proposal to redevelop a site that has been accepted into the Registry. It is anticipated that the review of the program and any changes will require consultation with all relevant stakeholders and will include a review and potentially revisions to the Reclaimed Industrial Sites Act (RISA) and the RISR. Saskatchewan Government (2007) The reclaimed industrial sites act, being Chapter R-4.21 of the Statues of Saskatchewan, viewed 25 February 2014, www.qp.gov.sk.ca/documents/english/Regulations/Regulations/R4-21r1.pdf.  

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