This report is a response to requests from community members, activists, and academics in Canada and abroad for information about how Canadian mining laws function. The document provides a non-technical overview of Canadian mining laws, selected ‘lessons learned’ and the outcomes of mining code reform projects. In order to keep the document accessible to a wide audience we have kept it brief but provide links to sources for more detailed information.
Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act
Jamie Kneen testified before a special subcommittee of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance looking specifially at section 3 of Bill C-38, the section of the budget implementation Act that repeals and replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and makes serious changes to the Fisheries Act and numerous other environmental laws.
Cliffs Natural Resources is proposing to develop a large chromite deposit in a remote area of northern Ontario that has been dubbed the Ring of Fire. Recognising that chromium is a toxic metal that has never been mined in Canada, MiningWatch has conducted a literature review of environmental and human health issues associated with mining and processing the metal. The complete literature review and three summary fact sheets are available here.
Each year, mining companies dump more than 180 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste into rivers, lakes, and oceans worldwide, threatening vital bodies of water with toxic heavy metals and other chemicals poisonous to humans and wildlife, according to this report by Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada.
CIDA’s Partnership with Mining Companies Fails to Acknowledge and Address the Role of Mining in the Creation of Development Deficits
This brief was prepared for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development’s Study on the Role of the Private Sector in Achieving Canada’s International Development Interests.
By James Wilkes. This study was done as a Masters thesis at Trent University and is posted here at the request of the author. Canadian environmental management involving Indigenous communities is at a crossroads. First Nation communities in regions holding mineral and other natural resources are coping with legal, economic and political pressures to comply with government and industry demands for resource extraction and exploitation.
Occupying Spaces Created by Conflict: Anthropologists, Development NGOs, Responsible Investment, and Mining
Regulators, investors, and communities are increasingly aware of the potential environmental and social harm associated with open-pit mining projects. Local-level conflict is now commonly associated with proposed and operating mines as community members struggle to protect economic and social values of importance to them, to assert the right to refuse a mine, or to advance claims on mining companies for damages. In response, mining companies seek partnerships to help them secure a so-called social licence to operate and manage risk to reputation.
This case study contends that Barrick Gold's Porgera Joint Venture Mine in Papua New Guinea is environmentally unsustainable and is severely undermining current food security, access to clean water, sustainable livelihood, and health, as well as the long-term development potential, of indigenous Ipili landowners living in the mine lease area. The mine is also eroding the sustainable development of surrounding Ipili and downstream communities. The mine is further implicated in serious human rights abuses.
Concerns with regard to the mandate and review procedure of the Office of the Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor for the Government of Canada
[Update, April 4, 2011: CSR Counsellor Marketa Evans has responded to our brief, occasioning a further response from MiningWatch expanding on some of the key issues.] The Office of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor’s mandate from the Government of Canada and its review process are similar to those of the Canadian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines and replicate many of the shortcomings of that voluntary non-judicial grievance mechanism. This brief outlines some of the main concerns.
Presentation: Canada is an important player in the global mining industry with important mineral holdings in Latin America. But the lack of an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework to hold our companies accountable for their operations abroad, means we are putting corporate rights over human rights. This presentation gives the example of Goldcorp's Marlin mine in Guatemala, with reference also to HudBay's Fénix nickel project.
Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade on the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement
Canada moves to support mining investment in Panama in the face of mounting human rights abuse by the Panamanian government and concerted opposition from Indigenous peoples, affected communities, and environmental groups. "The agreement as negotiated presents a very real risk of entrenching an ineffective and possibly irresponsible regulatory regime by protecting investments from tougher environmental or fiscal measures."
Canada’s economy is suffering right now. Did environmental assessment cause the recession? No, it did not. Will environmental assessment considerably delay economic recovery? No, it will not. It should, however, help us to transform the recovery into one that is based on more sustainable development alternatives.
The creation of large volumes of waste, including solids, liquid effluents, and air emissions, is a fact of life for mining and mineral processing operations. Depending on the minerals’ natural geology and how they are processed these wastes can often be hazardous to the environment and human health. Solid wastes including waste rock and tailings are, by volume, the most significant waste generated by mining and mineral processing. Solid wastes are typically in the tens to hundreds of millions of tons of waste for a single mine.
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development Presentation Regarding Bill C-300
On October 8, 2009, Catherine Coumans, Ph.D. appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to testify on Bill C-300 - An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries. Here is her presentation.
Published by the Canary Research Institute for Mining, Environment, and Health, this Community-Centred Health Assessment Toolkit will help members of mining-affected communities conduct their own assessment of the health of their community and guide them in taking steps towards supporting and improving the conditions for health in their communities.
The Toolkit is designed to be used by aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities where there is mining exploration or development or closed or abandoned mines. It can also be used by individuals, support groups, or institutions (academic, health) from outside the community that may be invited to help guide community members through parts, or all, of the health assessment and project planning process.
Land and Conflict: Resource Extraction, Human Rights, and Corporate Social Responsibility - Canadian Companies in Colombia
This report, researched by MiningWatch Canada, CENSAT-Agua Viva, and Inter Pares, looks at four case studies of Canadian extractive industry investment projects in Colombia, analyzing their associated potential human rights risks. Referring to principles developed by the UN Special Representative on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, the report identifies issues and circumstances that clearly indicate that transparent and independent human rights impact assessments are necessary to avoid significant potential risk to human rights in existing and proposed extractive projects. Available from Inter Pares on request or download the PDF. Also available in French and coming soon in Spanish.
Boreal Forest’s Wildlife and Communities Threatened by Impacts from Exploration, Mining – Revised 'Boreal Below' Report
Joint news release with Northwatch: A major new report highlights serious impacts on the Canadian boreal forest from all phases of mining activity, from exploration to closure. Two respected mining industry watchdogs – Northwatch and MiningWatch Canada – say they published The Boreal Below (an all-new and expanded version of a widely circulated 2001 report) in response to growing demand from communities across Canada for information and analysis to help understand the impacts of mining on their lives and livelihoods. It provides a carefully-documented analysis of the social, environmental, and cultural impacts of mining from prospecting to mine closure, as well as an overview of the current situation by province and territory.
Mining Investors: Understanding the legal structure of a mining company and identifying its management, shareholders and relationship with the financial markets
MiningWatch Presentation to Montreal Roundtable
Whether they bother with the Cyanide Code or the UN Global Compact or the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, or contract high-priced public relations consultants, or buy support from naïve NGOs and corrupt local officials, or actively divide communities, or rely on good old-fashioned intimidation, it is clear that most mining companies – from the largest global players to the smallest exploration juniors – are willing to do whatever they can get away with to reward their shareholders with juicy returns.