BAIE VERTE, NL — There doesn’t seem to be much to get excited about locally in the wake of recent federal discussions on asbestos.
In the Jan. 18 edition of the Nor’wester, Baie Verte Mayor Brandon Philpott wondered if an exemption to the promised ban on the use, sale, import and export of asbestos – and products containing the hazardous material – could lead to further cleanup or potential mining activity at the former Advocate Mines (formerly Baie Verte Mines).
Asbestos tailings have been a resource for operations in Quebec — namely in Asbestos, Que., where tailings are mined for magnesium.
The Nor’wester received a response from the provincial government’s Department of Natural Resources stating it would be happy to talk to town representatives and their federal colleagues about the former mine site.
However, there doesn’t appear to be any plans or interest beyond that.
“There is currently no activity at the site and no plans to reactivate the mine, as it is exempt mineral land and no longer open for staking,” an emailed statement from the department stated. “The site is secured with fencing and a locked gate.”
The department stated the former Baie Verte Mines site closed in 1994 before provincial legislation was in place requiring operators to rehabilitate sites upon closure.
However, the department has undertaken a lot of work at the site, including environmental site assessments and demolition of site infrastructure.
That effort continues, according to information provided.
“The department monitors the site annually using drone technology to monitor stability of the pit walls, and inspects the fencing on a regular basis,” the email stated.
The Nor’wester contacted the federal departments of Environment and Climate Change and Natural Resources for responses.
Natural Resources representatives deferred comment to the Department of Environment, which stated the federal government is committed to protecting the environment and safeguarding Canadians’ health from toxic substances.
“It recognizes that asbestos can cause life-threatening diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer, and is taking action to prohibit asbestos and products containing asbestos,” the email stated.
Proposed regulations would not apply to mining residues, according to the department, except for certain high-risk activities that would be prohibited.
Asbestos mining stopped in 2011, according to the information provided.
Mining activities are subject to federal, provincial and territorial laws, regulations and requirements. The federal department suggested contacting the provincial government and/or elected officials in the area to discuss specific or future economic development and opportunities.
The Nor’wester requested interviews with the provincial and federal departments contacted, but none was granted in either case.