The Alberta government announced this afternoon the details of its new Mine Financial Security Program.

In essence, the new program recognizes for mines that the asset in the ground (bitumen or coal) has significant value, and the amount of security for reclamation required in early years of production will be minimal. The security required to be posted in early years is equal to $2 million for a mine-mouth coal mine, $7 million for an export coal mine, $30 million for an oil sands mine with an existing EPEA approval, and $60 million for an oil sands mine with no existing approval (as of January 1, 2011).

As the mine is depleted, the amount required to be held as security increases. The security required to be posted starts increasing when there are 15 years of mine life left, and once there are 6 years of reserves left, all predicted abandonment, remediation and surface reclamation costs must be fully secured.

Additional security must also be posted when the mine owner does not meet certain financial tests.

Mine owners must continue to report to Alberta Environment on the the status of surface disturbances and reclamation.

For further information, see the extensive information provided by Alberta Environment, which includes a program guide and standards and an overview of the new program compared to the existing program.