Environment

Mining companies are governed by over 100 environmental laws and regulations, ensuring restrictions on mining activities in Québec. Beyond this framework, environment is a key concern for Québec’s mining industry, which counts on innovation to develop new exploration and extraction techniques that will limit impacts on the environment from the start of operations to mine closure and site rehabilitation.

Mine Site Rehabilitation And Restoration

The mining industry, like the general population, wants to avoid abandoned mine sites. Furthermore: it has supported the measure making mining companies responsible for 100% in costs of site restoration and requiring them to deposit 100% of the financial guarantee needed to cover these costs. As of now, a mining company is legally responsible for rehabilitating and restoring its mine site.

In addition, before receiving a mining lease that allows extraction, a mining company must have had its mine rehabilitation and restoration plan approved by the Québec department of sustainable development, the environment and the fight against climate change (Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte aux changements climatiques, or MDDELCC). In other words, before beginning operations, the company must already have planned the closure of the site once the mine reaches the end of its lifespan. Throughout the mine’s lifecycle, the mining company reassesses its needs and updates its plan every five years to ensure that the restoration plan is still valid and represents the reality of the ongoing work at the mine.

The Québec Mining Association, along with some of its members and other players in the mining sector, provides financial support for Fonds Restor-Action Nunavik for the restoration of abandoned mine sites in northern Québec.

Water Management

Agnico (Goldex) Service L'environnement (3)

Water management is a concern at all times in the mining industry. The management of mining waste differs and evolves throughout the life cycle of a mine, as does the treatment and monitoring program. In this program, the type of ore extracted must be taken into account, as well as the specifications of each mine site (ore extraction with or without treatment, presence or absence of tailings ponds, presence or absence of water treatment systems, etc.), as well as the mine site status (in operation, post-mining, or post-closure restoration). No matter the challenges brought by the management of mine waste, the mining industry still aims to ensure the protection of the environment, the natural ecosystems and the surrounding populations.

Air Quality Management

The impact of mining activities on air quality is mainly connected with the release of particles into the atmosphere. To minimize emissions, the mining industry has introduced processes and programs for reduction at source, processing controls and monitoring. These initiatives are designed to help improve the quality of the ambient air and to respond to social concerns.

Soil Management

Carriere

The extraction and processing of ore generate mine tailings. These residues are generally stored to be used later to build roads and dykes, or as backfill for the restoration of the mine site itself. These tailings are used instead of sand or gravel, reducing the environmental footprint. In addition, mining companies help reduce their impact on the environment by returning sites that have been disturbed to their natural state.

Biodiversity

Mining may have repercussions for wildlife species because of changes to their habitat. Some species have been seen to be attracted to mine sites, which may become a temporary or permanent living environment for them in some locations. For example, wildlife have frequently been seen in polishing ponds, tailings ponds, mining openings and its surroundings. In other words, mining can coexist with nature.