Removing aggregates and minerals from the earth has environmental impacts on land, water, air and wildlife.

Aggregates (e.g., sand, gravel, and bedrock) are used for road building and other construction. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is the lead ministry responsible for regulating aggregate pits and quarries under the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA). The MNRF has delegated to the Ministry of Transportation the authority under the ARA to issue and manage wayside permits and aggregate permits, when the aggregate is required for provincial road projects. Other ministries, such as the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, may also play a role in regulating aggregate operations under other legislation, including: the Environmental Protection Act; Environmental Assessment Act; Ontario Water Resources Act; Conservation Authorities Act; Planning Act; Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act; Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act; and Greenbelt Act.

Mineral prospecting, extraction and rehabilitation are primarily regulated by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) under the Mining Act, although Class Environmental Assessments under the Environmental Assessment Act, and MOECC approvals and permits under other statutes also apply.

Success under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)
Key Outstanding ECO Recommendations
  • The ECO recommends that the provincial government develop a new mechanism within the ARA approvals process that screens out, at an early stage, proposals conflicting with identified natural heritage or source water protection values. However, natural heritage protection continues to be one of the most contentious issues in approving and overseeing aggregate operations (2006/2007 Annual Report).
  • The ECO recommends that the MNRF, in consultation with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, develop a law to ensure that peat harvesting is carried out with minimal ecosystem disturbance, and that appropriate rehabilitation is undertaken. No progress has been made on this recommendation (2004/2005 Annual Report).
ECO Reporting on Aggregates and Mining

The ECO has reported on many issues related to aggregates and mining, including: regulation; planning and siting; environmental impacts and enforcement; and rehabilitation. Below is a selection of the ECO’s reports and articles on aggregates and mining. You can also use the search bar at the top of this page to search our website and reports for a particular word or phrase.

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