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These are the mining sector’s suggestions to the Canadian government

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, delivers a keynote address at the Energy Council of Canada Conference in Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday, February 6, 2017. Photo by Natural Resources Canada.

The Mining Association of Canada together with the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada issued a press release Monday highlighting the topics the industry would like government officials to address during the Energy and Mines Ministers’ annual conference.

The conference, which is taking place in St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, between August 14th and 15th, is a formal meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for energy and mining portfolios.

Taking into account that this year’s overarching theme is “clean growth,” MAC and PDAC, in the name of a national coalition of mining associations gathered under the umbrella of the Canadian Mineral Industry Federation, detailed specific actions in six policy areas that, they believe, “should help unlock billions of economic activity across the country, address climate change, bolster reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples, and secure Canada as the world’s top supplier of sustainably-sourced minerals and metals.”

In summary, they ask regulatory agencies, politicians, and policymakers for better coordination when it comes to issuing pre and post-environmental assessment permitting, with meaningful consultation; larger investments in health, education, skills training, and revenue-sharing mechanisms in Indigenous communities; a carefully designed climate change policy that is compatible across provinces and that “ensures the competitiveness of emissions-intensive and trade-exposed sectors;” a careful consideration of land use and withdrawals that takes into account mineral potential; the creation of the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support infrastructure building in remote and northern regions in order to “benefit both industry and local and Indigenous communities;” and increased support to industry’s innovation investments related to sustainably-sourced minerals and metals.

Image of Sisson Mine infrastructure, from the 2013 feasibility study, courtesy of Northcliff Resources.

But some First Nations groups are not on the same page as the miners. According to the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, a delegation of regional and national Indigenous and advocacy groups, backed-up by a 40,000-signature petition, are at the conference urging the ministers to do much more to protect the environment and communities affected by mining in Canada.

“We’re not against ‘clean growth’ or ‘clean energy,’ but these must not be empty words. We’re here to alert the public and our governments that there are still serious problems with the way mining is done in this country, and that there can’t be any clean growth or clean energy without first having clean mining,” Jacinda Mack, who was affected by the Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia in 2014 and is now a coordinator for the First Nations Women Advocating for Responsible Mining, is quoted as saying.

Environmentalists and community members present at the event are also there expressing their opposition to the Sisson Tungsten and Molybdenum Mine Project, which received federal environmental approval in June but which they say uses “the same facility design and water cover approach used at the failed Mt Polley Mine.”