Dumping mine tailings into lakes and rivers is illegal , unless specifically permitted. The Fisheries Act protects our waters from the release of harmful substances into fish bearing waters and or the alteration of fish habitat….but if the Minister gives permission the fish and their habitat can be destroyed.
In the Fisheries Act there is a regulation call the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation that allows depositing mine tailings in certain areas under certain circumstances if it protects the environment. These regulations were amended in 2002 to grandfather in 5 mining projects that were using lakes as tailings dumps. This means these natural water bodies are not protected by the Fisheries Act and so a mining company can dump millions of lbs of toxic tailings and waste rock in these Tailing Impoundment Areas.
New mines have seen this loophole and are trying to get pristine lakes near their mines to be a Tailing Impoundment Area. Why build and maintain a tailings pond at the cost of millions of dollars over the life of the mine when you can just dump the waste in a nearby lake?
In 2006 Trout Pond and Duck Pond near Buchans , Newfoundland were approved as Tailings Impoundment Areas. These ponds were formerly home to trout, salmon, and otters. They are now biologically dead zones.
These lakes set the precedent and so international mining companies have been applying to get access to more natural water bodies for their waste.
There is hope. A recent application on Fish Lake,B.C.by Tesako Mines was rejected because if citizen activism. After receiving the application the federal government was flooded by phone calls, emails, and a flood of messages from people across Canada and the application was rejected.
The site near William’s Lake , B.C., is known as Teztan Biny by the local First Nations and is an important traditional site. It is home to its own unique trout species and one of the provinces more productive trout fishing lakes. If the application had gone through this lake would have been killed, destroyed forever. The lake will now be protected.
Thanks to the Davi