Orphaned and Abandoned Mines

Orphaned and abandoned mines (OAM) are mines  that are no longer in operation and for which the owner either cannot be found, or is  financially unable or unwilling to carry out site rehabilitation and remediation. Many orphaned and abandoned mine sites were developed decades ago before environmental impacts were fully understood and modern operating standards were developed. Some of these OAM sites pose environmental, health, safety and economic risks to communities, mining industries, and governments.

Mine site rehabilitation and remediation occurs by:

  • identifying and correcting any safety hazards,
  • managing the disposal of potentially hazardous or toxic substances,
  • eliminating contamination in the air, soil, and water, and
  • returning the land as close as possible to its natural state.

 Rehabilitation and remediation of mine sites improves the lives of people who live near orphaned or abandoned mines by:

  • addressing human and environmental health and safety risks,
  • providing a more aesthetically pleasing environment for residents, visitors, and tourists, and
  • bolstering the economic viability of the area by creating jobs.
Orphaned and Abandoned Mine Sites Rehabilitation Program

In 2000, Manitoba established the Orphaned and Abandoned Mine (OAM) Site Rehabilitation Program to address the public safety and environmental health concerns associated with orphaned and abandoned mine sites.

In November 2019, the OAM Site Rehabilitation Program was transferred to Manitoba Environment and Climate Change to support mandate and policy alignment as the department works to advance a cleaner and greener Manitoba.

Manitoba Environment and Climate Change is responsible for the rehabilitation of orphaned and abandoned mines in the province, which include all:

  • impacted or contaminated sites that it owns or for which it is otherwise responsible; and
  • orphaned sites for which a responsible party cannot be identified or does not have the financial means to undertake remediation.

The OAM Program aims at addressing the environmental and public safety concerns that remain with orphaned and abandoned mine sites in Manitoba. In addition, the program will continue the remediation and monitoring work at orphaned and abandoned sites to reduce governments risk of non-compliance with federal and provincial regulatory requirements.

Manitoba is committed to ensuring a rapid pace of remediation efforts to ensure economic growth, environmental protection and human safety from high risk mining legacy sites in the province.

In addition to the OAM program, the province has also dedicated resources to the remediation of other environmental liability contaminated sites that are the responsibility of Manitoba. For general information about contaminated sites in Manitoba, visit Contaminated Sites Program.

Management of Orphaned and Abandoned Mine Site

Manitoba became responsible for rehabilitation and funding remediation costs of orphaned and abandoned mine sites prior to the implementation of closure plans and financial assurances under the Mine Closure Regulation in 1992.

In 1999, Manitoba adopted mine closure regulations, which require that environmental liabilities incurred during mining operations be financially secured to cover future remediation costs. Mine closure plans and financial security must be filed and approved prior to a permit being granted for a new mine operation.

Liability for Contaminated Sites

In 2005, the Province of Manitoba adopted an accounting policy to recognize environmental liabilities in financial statements. The implementation of the Environmental Liabilities Policy was completed in 2008/09. The liability of all contaminated sites identified before April 1, 2009 was charged to the opening accumulated deficit at April 1, 2008.

The Province adopted PS 3260 effective April 1, 2014 issued by the Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (PSAB) in June 2010. Section PS 3260 establishes standards for how to account for and report a liability associated with the remediation of a contaminated site. This applies to all governments and government organizations following Public Sector Accounting standards.

A liability for the remediation of a contaminated site should be recorded when contamination is identified and:

  • an environmental standard exists;
  • contamination exceeds an environmental standard;
  • the province is directly responsible, accepts responsibility, or is likely to be responsible;
  • it is expected that future economic benefits will be given up; or
  • a reasonable estimate of the amount can be made.
OAM Program Priority Sites

There are 153 sites within the Orphaned and Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program. According to recent site assessment carried out by the OAM program there are six high risk sites identified and the remainder being classified as low to moderate risk sites. Currently, the OAM Program is identifying priority sites to further reduce risks to the environment and human health. Sites to note are as follows:

  1. Ruttan Mine
  2. Sherridon Mine
  3. Lynn Lake Mine (Farley Mine)
  4. Gods Lake Mine
  5. Central Mine