1.20 Mining

On Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 in Vision Green

mining

The Green Party of Canada acknowledges the vital importance of the mining industry. We support mining where it does no lasting harm to the environment and the ecosystems that living things rely on. Mining is necessary and mining can be destructive, but greener mining is possible. The Green Party of Canada believes it is possible to extract minerals for human use with minimal harm to the environment and other species.

The Green Party of Canada also recognizes that all the materials from which we create our human-lived environment and society are extracted from nature. Our homes, cooking pots, wind turbines, computers, iPhones, and schools depend on the products of mines. We can do a much better job of recycling and re-using. We recognize that to improve the quality of life of the majority of the people of the world, mining will be needed. The Green Party recognizes, however, that in using natural resources we compete with other creatures. We all need to remember that agriculture, building cities and homes, and transportation all alter the habitats of plants and animals and their food chains.

Mining is a significant component of the Canadian economy, especially in rural areas where it is often an important source of jobs. While mining contributes to local employment, it can sometimes leave behind residues, leaching ponds, polluting of the water table, and damaged roads due to heavy trucks (becoming a township, local taxpayer expense).  New mines, even exploration, sometimes are a disincentive to other investments and land uses, since mining can compete with other land values. The Green Party of Canada is committed to minimizing these impacts.

Mining, like all businesses, should be subjected to full cost accounting. The Greens support triple bottom line analysis, measuring social, environmental, and economic costs and benefits. Of paramount concern is that nearby aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities share in planning and decision-making, and that local and regional employment and economic benefits are substantial and adequate. To minimize the local impact of mining, the Green Party would require that mining projects include detailed plans and effective measures to deal with any potential problems like acid mine drainage, and that the plans must be in place before active mining begins. The Green Party is committed to effective monitoring of the impacts of mining on ground water, agricultural lands, or air quality as wind carries pollutant loads to other provinces.

Because most mining produces materials that can be used and reused indefinitely, Green Party of Canada will actively support full recycling of metals and mineral products. The Greens will provide tax benefits to reward full recycling of metals, as recycling is often a more energy and cost-effective way to use metals than to mine virgin materials.

While the control of natural resources is allocated by our Constitution to provincial governments, the consequences of mining often encroach on areas of federal jurisdiction, like fisheries. This energy intensive industry contributes nearly twice as much to Canada’s GHG emissions as do all domestic flights in Canada. Some products, like asbestos and uranium, which are a serious danger to human health, should not be produced.  (Chrysotile asbestos is a known carcinogen with no known safe threshold to avoid sickness. The European Union has banned importation of this mineral. Currently Canada exports 220,000 tonnes of chrysotile asbestos, mostly to developing countries that do not have the resources to handle it safely.)

Because of the impact on the climate, the Green Party of Canada believes that the global extraction and burning of fossil fuels must be greatly reduced, and most must be replaced by sustainable energy as soon as possible.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Call for government action to require life-cycle product stewardship of metals to ensure that once mined they remain in economic service for generations;
  • Actively encourage value-added upgrading and manufacturing, to create more jobs and other local economic benefits;
  • Work with provinces and territories to ensure that First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities participate in a socially, environmentally and economically meaningful way in mineral development and mining in their traditional areas;
  • Vigorously oppose the permitting of any new uranium mines and notify current uranium-permit holders of plans to phase out this industry in Canada, including exports;
  • Prohibit the export of fissionable nuclear material;
  • Develop plans to fast-track the end to asbestos mining in Canada and assist the Quebec government and industry in phasing out the chrysotile mining industry, providing transition support for affected workers, families and communities;
  • Shift Canada’s position to support Prior Informed Consent rules under the Rotterdam Convention for asbestos;
  • Push for full-cost accounting for mining and prospecting. Review the benefits of flow-through shares promoting prospecting and exploration in unlikely areas;
  • Work with provinces, territories, and industry to ensure that all mining operations are insured for environmental liabilities, and have an adequate pre-funded plan for remediation, both for the short and long-term, when a mine closes, and ensure that waters are not contaminated during mining operations and after a mine closes;
  • Introduce a Corporate Social Responsibility Act to regulate the mining industry, requiring the highest environmental practices both in Canada and wherever Canadian companies operate.

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