Natural resource ministers from across Canada were on hand at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual conference for the March 3, 2019 launch of “The Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan”, a federal-provincial blueprint for the responsible development of the mining sector.
The plan has been endorsed by the federal government and all provinces except Ontario and Saskatchewan, which are still smarting about the federal carbon backstop and Bill C-69, the new federal impact assessment law that is now before the Senate.
The environment is one of six strategic directions identified in the plan, but environmental issues figure even more prominently in it. The plan positions Canada already as a global leader in mining, and describes the close link between the mineral and cleantech sectors. A solar panel, for instance, requires 19 mineral products and metals, 14 of which are found and/or produced in Canada.
The plan calls for action on waste reduction in mining, specifically support for research and innovation that reduces energy and water consumption and the production of waste rock. This may include re-examining mine tailings, which may prove to be a source of metals and minerals.
On energy, it calls for the accelerated development of clean sources, particularly for those mines that depend heavily on diesel. It specifically mentions efforts in Canada to develop small modular reactors for the Canadian mining industry and for export markets.
The mandate of the National Orphaned/Abandoned Mines Initiative should be expanded to include recommending best practices on rehabilitation, financial assurance and other concerns arising from orphaned or abandoned mines.
Mines ministers will discuss concrete actions during their scheduled joint meeting in summer 2019. The first action plan will be released in 2020.