Development and Progress of the Mining Association of Canada's Towards Sustainable Mining Program

Development and Progress of the Mining Association of Canada's Towards Sustainable Mining Program

Michelle Edith Jarvie-Eggart (Barr Engineering, USA & University of Maryland University College, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8433-1.ch012
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Abstract

Early efforts to address sustainability within the mining industry (GMI and ICMM) did not create a common set of protocols by which individual operations could be clearly ranked on their performance. Although the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) does provide protocols for the reporting of sustainability indicators for mining operations, GRI-based reports include a letter grade based on report completeness, not performance on the actual indicators. The Mining Association of Canada's Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program provides protocols to address biodiversity, tailings management, crisis management, safety and health, energy/GHGs, and Aboriginal/community engagement. The TSM-based reports grade mining operation performance at implementing programs and systems to address each of these topics. Progress along these indicators tells us how well the industry is doing at addressing sustainability along each concept, and where further progress is still needed.
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Background

With increasing global population comes ever more competition for the Earth’s finite mineral resources. Unfortunately, minerals are not distributed evenly on the planet, leaving some countries comparatively richer in minerals than others. Canada is among the leading mining countries in the world. With over 3,000 companies mining in Canada, its main products include potash, sulfur, uranium, aluminum, cobalt, gem-quality diamonds, refined indium, nickel, platinum-group metals, sodium sulfate, and zinc (USGS 2011). As the world’s second largest country by area, Canada has vast amounts of wilderness and roadless areas (CIA, 2009). Through Canada’s Aboriginal populations of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, Canada also has a unique cultural heritage and connection to its natural environment. Canada’s diverse society, expansive wilderness environment, and vast mineral resources have all contributed to the need for efforts to balance the social, environmental, and economic impacts of the mining industry. To better understand how these impacts can be addressed through sustainability programs, we must first revisit what it is that sustainability means.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Aboriginal: As used in Canada, this term refers to all indigenous peoples.

Sustainable Development: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” as defined by the Brundtland Commission.

Biodiversity: Refers to the variation of organisms within an area or ecosystem.

Triple Bottom Line: Refers to the expansion of the traditional business accounting framework to consider environmental and social performance in addition to the traditional business metric of financial performance, a term coined by John Elkington.

Tailings: Waste rock remaining (often in pulverized liquid slurry form) after ore has been processed to recover valuable minerals.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Voluntary efforts by companies to address provide positive economic, social and environmental benefits to the communities in which they operate.

Greenhouse Gasses: Gasses that cause a heating effect in the earth’s atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone.

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