British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Closure of the Colomac Mine : a First Nations - mine owner collaboration Pearse, Anthony Dalton, 1946-


The reclamation of mines is an important issue for Aboriginal peoples in Canada who have mines in their traditional territories. Mine owners and operators have a responsibility to engage those First Nation communities affected by these projects in decisions relating to land use and environment including, particularly, mine site reclamation and closure. Decisions must be made that consider legal and policy requirements, scientific and technical standards and practices, traditional knowledge and cultural values. Closure planning for the abandoned Colomac gold mine in the Northwest Territory represents a successful collaborative planning and decision-making process that evolved from a partnership between the Tlicho First Nation (formerly known as the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council) and the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) as owner of the site. DIAND and the Tlicho pioneered a joint working relationship to research potential options for closure, and to establish a means whereby each partner was able to use its values and priorities to systematically assess project risks and to ultimately select a preferred closure option. Although the process encountered many challenges, the mine closure plan resulting from the process ultimately met the needs of both partners. The key ingredients for success included early and meaningful involvement of the Tlicho communities in the closure planning, and the provision of resources to enable them to do so.

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