02/07/2013 09:30 EST | Updated 04/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Province to force mines to pay for cleanup

Under the new rules announced by Quebec's minister of natural resources, companies hoping to operate mines in the province will have to submit plans for site remediation and guarantee they'll pay for all of the cleanup.

Martine Ouellet wants those plans to include the entire site, not just tailings ponds. She said the proposed regulation will put an end to abandoned mine sites.

There are 680 abandoned mine sites in Quebec. Some of the sites date back to the 19th century. Others were left behind as recently as 2004.

An environmental advocate with the Coalition for Better Mining, Christian Simard, said cleaning Quebec's abandoned mine sites would cost about $1-billion.

"It is a scandal that it was not corrected for many years now," said Simard.

One company on board

One mining company has already committed to pay for 100 per cent of the clean up of its mine.

Bryan Coates is the chief financial officer at Osisko, which has an open-pit gold mine in Malarctic, Que.

"Just the same way the rest of society has become more conscious about the environment, our industry has," he said.

Coates said it will be difficult for companies to come up with financial guarantees before their mine turns a profit. But he said it's the responsible thing to do.