Northern Reclamation in Canada: Contemporary Policy and Practice for New and Legacy Mines


  • Anne Dance Memorial University



The Northern Review 41 (2015): 41–80

This article discusses the factors shaping contemporary reclamation regimes in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, northern Labrador, and Nunavik in northern Quebec. It distils policy documents, laws, research reports, and newspaper articles for a clear overview of current policy and practice in the North and shows that no overarching vision informs reclamation planning. Instead of direction from Ottawa, responsibility for policy-making now largely sits with provincial, territorial, and regional governments along with local land and water boards. Efforts to mitigate the impacts of new and legacy mines are complicated by the highly site- and case- specific nature of reclamation; the lack of a clear, ambitious technical and regulatory definition of reclamation; and the jurisdictional overlap and governance issues associated with cleanup. Addressing these wider policy challenges in the North is crucial to meet the expansive, expensive demands of mine reclamation. As well, remediation efforts that draw on traditional knowledge and encourage local involvement can mitigate and manage some of the worst impacts of northern resource development. Policy reform such as strengthened regulations and more rigorous government enforcement will help facilitate this. However, reclamation can also exacerbate inequality and environmental problems. Effective reclamation demands more than a particular technological fix or planning strategy; it involves a candid discussion of the goals and limitations of reclamation projects, both past and present. This article has been summarized in an accessible up-to-date poster and will be of interest to concerned parties grappling with a plethora of reclamation regulatory bodies and programs.

Author Biography

Anne Dance, Memorial University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History






Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic