British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Assessment of mind closure bonds as tools for protection of water quality and First Nations rights Freed, Rina


Mine closure bonds have been assessed as tools for the goal of protecting water quality, aquatic habitat and First Nations Rights. While some mining companies have taken a strong stewardship approach at their sites, other mining companies fall short of protecting long-term water quality and interests of First Nations. Consideration is given to successes and challenges with a number of operating and closed mines, mainly in British Columbia. Lessons learned show it is essential that closure bonds reflect the on-the-ground liabilities on an annual basis and that the bonds be fully updated when mines are profiting. Once conditions change and mines are not profiting, it is very difficult to remedy a situation where liabilities greatly exceed the closure bond held by the Province. To reach long-term closure and full remediation of a mines site, a delay in action of decades is common before water quality impacts are remediated. Improved regulatory tools to protect long-term water quality and First Nations rights are considered such as Environmental Performance Bonds. This paper draws attention to a gap in stewardship that often exists during prolonged periods of Care and Maintenance and economically challenging periods of mine Operations. During periods of economic hardship, remediation of water quality impacts is not typically achieved. A strengthened regulatory approach is recommended to address water quality concerns associated with companies with long-standing track records of non-compliance. To increase trust in the mining industry, an improved regulatory system is proposed with reduced reliance on positive corporate culture and fortunate economic conditions.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International