Tailings impoundment areas

The Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations authorize deposits of mine waste (such as waste rock, tailings and effluent) into a tailings impoundment area.

It is expected that water bodies frequented by fish shall be avoided to the extent practicable for the long-term disposal of mine waste; and that mine waste shall be managed to ensure the long-term protection of Canada's terrestrial and aquatic environment.

Schedule 2 of the Regulations lists water bodies designated as tailings impoundment areas. A water body is added to that Schedule through a regulatory amendment.

Process to amend Schedule 2 of the Regulations

Proposals to amend Schedule 2 of the Regulations must meet various requirements before the Minister of the Environment can recommend the amendment to the Governor in Council. It is the proponent’s responsibility to:

Providing this information during an Impact Assessment can reduce the time required for the regulatory amendment process under the Regulations.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for preparing the regulatory package and associated documentation required to amend Schedule 2 of the Regulations. The typical timelines associated with the regulatory amendment process vary between 12 and 24 months following consultations (Figure 1). However, the application of the policy on the Streamlining the Approvals Process for Metal Mines with Tailings Impoundment Areas allows the approval time to be shortened to five or six months for publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II, if conditions described in the policy are satisfied.

Figure 1:  Authorizing the use of waters frequented by fish for mine waste disposal under the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations

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