$50M to clean up old mines — even as new ones explored
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/04/2022 (404 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Environment Minister Jeff Wharton has announced money to clean up old mine sites but has little to say about the potential for new mining in a provincial park that’s causing alarm.
“Escalating destruction” caused by mineral exploration in the northern part of Nopiming Provincial Park is the subject of a video posted online by the Wilderness Committee this week. It says five kilometres of trails have been bulldozed through moose habitat there without transparency or accountability.
At a news conference Tuesday, when asked about mineral exploration in Nopiming, and if there’s been any move to allow mining in provincial parks, Wharton was cautious. He seemed to defer to the minister responsible for mines.
“We would continue to collaborate with Manitobans on issues with respect to expanding on mining,” Wharton said at the event to announce $50.7 million for remediation of abandoned mine sites.
However, “mining does fall under my colleague’s department – that would be a good question for (natural resources) minister (Scott) Fielding,” he said.
“Certainly we know that, going forward, we need to ensure that we’re protecting our environment,” Wharton said. “That’s why we’re here today.”
Eric Reder, director of the Wilderness Committee, said he wished that Wharton would’ve announced an immediate moratorium on mining claims in provincial parks. He said “industrial destruction” is happening in Nopiming unchecked.
“We need to know that somebody’s looked at impacts of those bulldozed trails” on the moose and songbird population and the wetlands and peat bogs, Reder said.
“If we can’t have the transparency and accountability, then we can’t trust that this activity isn’t irreparably harming this provincial park,” Reder said in the video posted on YouTube.
Wharton’s press secretary said the minister decides what activity takes place in parks. His department works with the mines branch and the conservation officer service to oversee mining activities in provincial parks. Their job is to “ensure that activities are conducted according to permit conditions to ensure park landscapes are best managed and conserved.”
He said a mining company was granted a permit to conduct exploratory drilling near Beresford Lake in the northern portion of Nopiming, which is an allowed activity.
He said most of the trails on the permit are existing resource use trails that have historically been used for mining and forestry operations.
“Mining in Manitoba pre-dates the establishment of the first provincial parks and in some cases parks were established where mineral extraction was already occurring, such as in Nopiming Provincial Park,” Wharton’s press secretary said.
NDP critic Lisa Naylor said the PC government isn’t doing enough to protect parks or address climate change.
“Manitobans care deeply about our parks,” Naylor said in a statement. “That’s why it’s so disappointing to see (Wharton) fail to take responsibility for what goes on inside them and refuse to invest in solutions to make our lakes and air cleaner and healthier,” Naylor said. “This budget was Premier Stefanson’s chance to take action on climate change, but instead she chose to repeat Brian Pallister’s mistake of putting climate action and our parks at the bottom of her list. “
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont pointed out the absurdity of bulldozers clearing forest for mining in Nopiming, as the PCs announce over $50 million to clean up abandoned mine sites.
“The sad reality is that the PCs and NDP have allowed logging and mining in Manitoba’s parks for decades, with devastating effects on water and wildlife that people depend on. We need a mining and economic strategy that leaves the province better than we found it, financially and environmentally, and there’s no sign of that from this government.”
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Updated on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 9:15 PM CDT: fixes typo