Sources of pollution: mining

Environment Canada works to address the environmental impacts of mining. Waste rock and mine tailings can result in releases to water and soil. Acidic drainage and the leaching of metals from the mine workings and mine wastes may occur at metal mines. Acidic drainage can cause significant impacts on water quality and aquatic ecosystems. Chemicals that are used to process metal-bearing ores can also be found in mine waste water.

Canada's provinces have primary jurisdiction over mining because it is about natural resource extraction. The federal government has legislation that covers key aspects of the sector. The Minister of the Environment is responsible for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and administering the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) under the Fisheries Act. Mining operations which are not captured under the MMER, such as coal mines, diamond mines, quarries, and other non-metallic mineral mining facilities, are subject to the requirements of the Fisheries Act. Additional relevant federal laws that may impact mining are the International River Improvements Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Species at Risk Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999

Federal guidance

Federal reports

  • Status report on the performance of metal mines subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations:
  • Summary Review of Performance of Metal Mines Subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations:
  • Status Report on Water Pollution Prevention and Control under the Metal mining Effluent Regulations, 2003

Biological test methods

  • Reference Method for Determining Acute Lethality of Effluents to Rainbow Trout, 2000 with 2007 amendments
  • Reference Method for Determining Acute Lethality of Effluents to Daphnia magna, 2000
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