Ontario pledges a record $60M to continue cleanup, restoration of abandoned mine sites
The Ontario government has made a long-term commitment to the continued cleanup of abandoned mine sites in the province, pledging $60 million-$10 million per year for the next six years-to rehabilitate these lands for possible commercial or recreational use.
"Our government is investing $60 million over six years to the Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program. This long-term commitment to the program is a first for any Ontario government," said Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci.
Work will include capping, monitoring and filling in or fencing off of physical hazards such as excavations (stopes) that are open to, or near, the surface. In the long term, many lands can be made available for recreational, community or business use, or for further mineral exploration and production.
This year's projects will include the continuing rehabilitation of the Kam Kotia site in Timmins, work at the Agnew Lake site in Sudbury, and a study of 86 tailings sites across the province to determine the next steps in the rehabilitation process.
Bartolucci emphasized that, "While the province's Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program can be applied in cases where there is no current mine owner, or for companies in receivership, this program does not free companies or individuals from their obligation to rehabilitate their mining lands." Ontario's Mining Act, as amended, requires mining companies, as mineral rights owners, to submit closure plans and financial assurance to return lands to their natural or other acceptable state once exploration and mining activities have been completed.
Ontario's Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation program is designed to systematically eliminate potential mine hazards and to rehabilitate Crown land at former mine sites classified as high priority. It applies in cases where there is no owner, or in extreme circumstances such as a receivership, when the government has stepped in.
More than 5,600 known abandoned mine and mineral exploration sites exist in Ontario, of which 30 to 40% are on Crown land. Many of these sites are more than 50 years old and were closed before current, more stringent standards for rehabilitation were established.
To date, the program has resulted in:
*elimination or containment of physical hazards at approximately 75 abandoned mine sites;
*completion of engineering studies for a number of sites to determine appropriate rehabilitation plans; and
*assessment reports conducted at approximately 4,000 abandoned mine sites not previously assessed.
In addition, approximately two-thirds of the rehabilitation required at the Kam Kotia site has been completed. This is the province's largest single rehabilitation site, with total expenditures to date approaching $38.5 million. Moreover, these results include work carried out under an agreement between the Ontario government and the Ontario Mining Association whereby each party may commit up to $1 million to share rehabilitation costs of some Crown-held abandoned mine sites.
Planned projects (with anticipated expenditures) for the 2006-2007 fiscal year include:
*conducting a two-year project to install a dry cover over the northwest section of tailings at the Kam Kotia mine site (total cost $12.3 million);
*conducting a two-year study of 86 tailings sites, on which to base rehabilitation plans (bids not yet finalized);
*moving tailings from creek areas north of the Kam Kotia site to within an enclosed area, a project in partnership with the Ontario Mining Association (bids not yet finalized);
*operating and maintaining the water treatment plant at the Kam Kotia site, under a five-year contract (total cost $1.8 million);
*cleaning up a drainage ditch at the Agnew Lake Mine site (bids not yet finalized); and
*conducting an engineering study to determine a rehabilitation plan for two open stopes at the Bruce Mines site (bids not yet finalized).
Another project, backfilling an open shaft at the Zigzag Island mine site, near the Township of Lake of the Woods, was completed this past July at a cost of $32,050.
The provincial government and the Porcupine Joint Venture, a private sector enterprise co-owned by Kinross Gold and Goldcorp Canada, have also been working co-operatively to address subsidence issues at former Hollinger and McIntyre mines sites in the Timmins area. For 2006-07, the province has committed up to $1 million on projects in partnership with the Porcupine Joint Venture to address subsidence issues on the above properties.
There are numerous projects under this partnership for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, including: a major operation to fill stopes along the Highway 101 corridor between Timmins and Schumacher to ensure long-term stability; capping a steeply inclined tunnel on Luzenac property and carrying out drilling at stopes along Highway 101 to determine the thickness of the rock cover.
More information is available from Stan Kaczmarek at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines Timmins office, 705/235-1629, or on the Ministry's Web site, www.mndm.gov.on.ca.