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MAC comments on Boreal Water Report from Pew Environmental Group

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) expressed concern regarding the portrayal of Canada’s mining sector by the PEW Environmental Group and a lack of balance in “A Forest of Blue – Canada’s Boreal Forest, the World’s Water keeper”.

Canada’s mining industry is committed to minimizing and mitigating the impacts of its operations on the natural environment.  To that end, the Mining Association of Canada and its members welcome constructive dialogue with all communities of interest, which can lead to improved environmental performance.  Wherever possible, that dialogue should be informed by verifiable, peer-reviewed science.  Organizations like the Pew Environmental Group (PEG) can be a source of such information, especially given their stated commitment to apply “a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.”  In an effort to support PEG in fulfilling that commitment, MAC offers the following specific comments on the organization’s recently released report.

Environmental Assessment and Permitting

PEG states that “Outdated mining laws in many parts of Canada allow for free-entry mining, often lacking an application process or environmental review”.  There is not one province or territory in Canada where a mine could be built without going through a plethora of provincial/territorial and federal approvals.  In fact, Canada’s environmental review and application processes are among the most rigorous and comprehensive in the world and are regularly held up as a point of reference in the international community.

Orphaned and Abandoned Mines

It is true that orphaned and abandoned mines exist across Canada.  For this reason, the mining industry, through MAC and the Prospectors and Developers of Canada (PDAC) joined with Mining Watch Canada and other non-government organizations, several government departments and Aboriginal Canadians to form the multi-stakeholder National Orphaned and Abandoned Mines Initiative (NOAMI).   Created in 2002, NOAMI reports to the mines ministers of Canada, and makes recommendations for collaborative implementation of remedial programs for orphaned and abandoned mines across Canada.  More information on NOAMI’s ongoing work can be found at www.abandoned-mines.org.

Environmental Stewardship

While the report mentions MAC’s Toward Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative, it fails to recognize that   participation in the program is mandatory for all MAC members and that publicly reported results require independent third party verification.  The TSM program has been in place since 2004 and has earned MAC the Globe Foundation Award for Environmental Performance and has been twice independently assessed by leading sustainability experts as best-in-class across all sectors nationally and internationally.  More information on TSM, including results can be found at www.mining.ca.

Recognising the very important challenges associated with water quality and usage, MAC has for many years been an active participant in many multi-stakeholder initiatives including the Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND) program, Assessment of the Aquatic Effects of Mining in Canada (AQUAMIN) and the Aquatic Effects Technology Evaluation (AETE) program.  Most recently, we have collaborated with the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to produce a report entitled “Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors “ (2010).

“The errors and omissions in the report are of great concern to MAC in that they may lead readers to incorrect conclusions” said Gordon Peeling, President and CEO of MAC.  Many of the references cited in the mining portion of the report are vague and difficult to verify  - some are even identified as being unpublished.  These do not meet the standard of peer-reviewed science.

The Mining Association of Canada and its members work closely with many communities of interest, civil society and government to develop and implement public policy that supports a mining industry that is of great benefit to current and future generations of Canadians.  Good policy decisions can only be made when they are based on fact and sound science; we always welcome the opportunity to participate in constructive, multipartite dialogue.  MAC intends to contact PEG to explore gaps in their portrayal of some of the issues.

 

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About the Mining Association of Canada

 

Based in Ottawa, the Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry. Its members are engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication.