Finding Value in Mining Waste Materials


Dr Timothy Joseph, Ms Regan Schafer-Frentz

In the past, when social license to operate and environmental stewardship were not common practice, reclamation practices following mine closure were either minimal or non-existent, which left behind large abandoned sites. In addition to the disregarded environmental responsibilities, local communities in the region were now faced with unemployment from the closure of the mine and the inability to use the land in its current state. After years of relying on the mine for income, the community must now consider its future beyond mining, one that may be difficult to pursue given the lack of financial support. This paper suggests the discussion of post-mining landscape use earlier in the mining process such that the community can form an alternative land use strategy following closure. This strategy would incorporate the needs and culture of the community, investigate the most natural method to both reclaim the landscape according to environmental regulations and utilize waste as a tool to create income, and it would occur prior to the mine becoming operational. This paper suggests considering current and abandoned mines as an opportunity for local communities to create a new source of revenue, specifically by putting a value on its waste material. Many alternative land uses exist and have been successful for many communities that showed the initiative to become self-sustaining by creating its own local commerce. To make this concept more common, this paper also suggests revisiting current mining regulations, specifically the National Instrument 43-101, to include waste in its reporting requirements. A case study from the Northwest Territories has been investigated to provide an example of how a derelict piece of land could be transformed into a safe and useful landscape for the community.