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
"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
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
The Government of Canada estimated in 1995 that cleanup
at existing acid generating mines could cost up to C$5
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: http://www.miningwatch.ca/national%20AMD%20maps/nat_amd.htm