As discussed in the previous post about aggregate extraction, the government does regulate the environmental aspect of aggregate extraction, through the 1990 Aggregate Resources Act.
Yet the extraction still needs to stop
The Aggregate Resources Act has four main goals:
- To provide management of aggregate resources
- To control and regulate operations on both crown and private lands
- To minimize the effects of aggregate extraction
- To require progressive rehabilitation of the land.
In 1996, the act was amended to include rehabilitation payments to the Aggregate Resources Trust (Ministry of Natural Resources, 2009).
Aggregate companies continue to fail in regards to taking long term responsibility; an example of this, is the presence of legacy sites. A legacy site is a mine site where a permit was obtained before the Aggregate Resource Act was implemented and progressive or final rehab was not required by law (TORGC, 2015). The Ontario Aggregate Resource Corporation (TOARC), with assistance from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) are now making efforts to rehabilitate these sites; however, the rehabilitation process is long and an expensive process. Rehabilitation can only occur if the land owner gives consent and often, the aggregate companies that previously mined the land are the owners. These owners are often reluctant to let outsiders on their land. Furthermore, the rehabilitation process is a very financially taxing process and costs about $11 500/ ha. Efforts are being made to assist with the financial aspect of the rehabilitation process through current mining registration fees. For every tonne of aggregate extracted, the aggregate company must give $0.005 to TOARC, resulting in about $400 000 – $600 000 annually (TOARC, 2015).
These restoration projects focus on vegetative and species rehabilitation and do not address the many irreversible environmental damages that are part of the extraction process. For example, criteria for air contaminants (CAC’s), emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG’s), and damage to aquifers and ground water flows are not addressed (healey, 2007). Therefore, I believe that the land can never be fully restored to its original purpose or quality.
Ministry of Natural Resources. (2009). Aggregate Resources Act. Government of Ontario.<http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90a08>
The Ontario Aggregate Recourse Corporation (TOARC), (2015). Management of abandoned aggregate properties program. <http://www.toarc.com/index.html>
Healey, S. (2007). Putting the “stone” back in capstone: concrete solutions for reducing mineral aggregate consumption in Ontario. Simon Fraser University.