Above: Giant Mine in Yellowknife has cost taxpayers nearly one billion dollars since shutting down in 2004 because the cost of remediation wasn’t covered by the corporation that operated it. Today the Auditor General of Manitoba, Merwan Saher, blasted the provincial government for not requiring oilsands companies to cough up enough cash in advance in order to clean up and remediate affected landscapes once the last batch of crude has been shipped out. As it stands right now, the companies are allowed to fudge their numbers and overvalue their resources, when in reality they would likely struggle to pay for the cleanup costs. And that means that the provincial and federal taxpayers would be on the hook. “Without these improvements, if a mine operator cannot fulfil its reclamation obligations and no other private operator assumes the liability, the province is at risk of having to pay substantial amounts of public money,” he explained. One would think that after the Giant/Con mine debacle in Yellowknife, which is projected to cost taxpayers over nine hundred million dollars, governments in bed with industry would learn from past mistakes. While the new NDP government is still finding it’s footing, one can hope they will move quickly and decisively to fill in this gap.
Michael Tyas is the managing editor of One River News. He graduated the University of Manitoba with an honours degree in environmental studies, and is a professional videographer and video trainer. He produced the feature length documentary "One River, Many Relations" in Fort Chipewyan. He continues to work with indigenous communities to share their stories around resource extraction, industrial development, and impacts on traditional territories.