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Canada Imposes New Mining Rules to Benefit Fish

OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, June 20, 2002 (Environmental News Service) - Canada will implement new environmental regulations to reduce pollution entering waterways from metal mines across the country, Environment Minister David Anderson announced today. The new rules impose limits on releases of cyanide, metals, and suspended solids, and prohibit the discharge of effluent that is lethal to fish.

"The new requirements of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations which will be fully in force on December 6, 2002, are among the most comprehensive and stringent national standards for mining effluents in the world and provide opportunities for further advances in Canadian environmental expertise in the mining sector," Anderson said

"These new national standards will reduce pollution and enhance protection for fish and fish habitat, while improving water quality in ecosystems and mining communities across Canada," the minister said.

  The regulations require metal mines to conduct environmental effects monitoring programs to identify any adverse effects of their effluent on fish, fish habitat, and the use of fisheries resources.

These new rules were developed through consultations with the mining industry, environmental organizations, First Nations, and provincial and territorial governments. They apply to the 100 metal mines operating in seven provinces and three territories.

Conservationists such as the Environmental Mining Council of British Columbia have been warning for years about the deadly effects of acid mine drainage on fish.

"Acid mine drainage is the mining industry's greatest environmental problem and its greatest liability, especially to our waterways. An acid generating mine has the potential for long term, devastating impacts on rivers, streams and aquatic life, becoming in effect a perpetual pollution machine," the council says in its publication "Protecting the Future through Action Today."

In Canada, there are an estimated 351 millions metric tons of waste rock, 510 million tons of sulphide tailings, and more than 55 million tons of other mining sources which have the potential to cause acid mine drainage, according to a 1995 estimate published in "Mother Jones" magazine and cited in the Environmental Mining Council report.

The Government of Canada estimated in 1995 that cleanup at existing acid generating mines could cost up to C$5 billion.

The new Metal Mining Effluent Regulations are being promulgated under the Federal Fisheries Act. They replace the 1977 Metal Mining Liquid Effluent Regulations and repeal the 1979 Alice Arm Tailings Deposit Regulations.

View a map of acid generating mines in Canada at:

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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