Misconceptions about modern gold mining stem from historical mining practices that we agree were not good enough. No industry took proper care of the environment 100-150 years ago. It was an era long before environmental awareness or scientific understanding of human impact on the environment. It was a time of people and companies dumping garbage and waste in rivers and forests. We agree that historical mines were not properly managed, just like most human activities back then. However, historical sites like these have nothing to do with modern mining.

Most industries have unfortunate legacy issues. Governments have paid to clean up sites like the Sydney tar ponds, Amherst Aerospace and Trenton's Tibbetts Paints. Mining also has legacy issues but they date from another era and the industry takes proper care of the environment today.

Modern mining is a sophisticated, science-based activity that takes proper care of the environment. Nova Scotia mines are stringently regulated by the provincial and federal governments.

Some people have questions about how we manage the environment, so below is information on some of the questions commonly raised.

Reclamation Bonds

Before getting operating permits, companies must get government approval of reclamation plans and post reclamation bonds (money in escrow, basically) that ensure funds are available to properly take care of sites.

Water Management

Mine operators are required by law to treat, strictly monitor and test water, and report back to the provincial Department of the Environment. Water is usually recycled on-site to reduce the overall amount that an operation draws from local sources. Water released back into a river or lake is usually cleaner after it has been used in a mine or quarry than it was beforehand.

Groundwater

Uranium and arsenic occur in all Nova Scotia rock. They are unstable and often leach naturally into groundwater. It's important to test wells for them. Mining does not release uranium and arsenic or create a problem that did not already exist. In fact, mines contain these materials in engineered facilities that protect water.

Mercury

Modern gold mines do not use mercury. It’s an obsolete method of processing that is harmful to the environment. Mercury has not been used in Nova Scotia since the early 1900s.

Watersheds

A watershed is an area where all water drains into a common water body. The term simply means a geographical area. All land is part of a watershed so virtually all human activities and infrastructure are in watersheds, including homes, roads, schools and industrial sites.

Fixing past Mistakes

Modern mines even sometimes fix issues with historical sites by cleaning up tailings or stabilizing land that was left unusable by the pick and shovel mining of the distant past. For example, the Moose River gold mine has cleaned up historical tailings in Moose River and the Point Aconi mine reclamation project fixed subsidence issues caused by historical bootleg coal mining.