Ontario Fails to meet standards for responsible mining

A September 2020 report from law firm Olthius, Kleer and Townshend (OTK) compares the implementation of best practices in mining law in five different Canadian provinces and territories to a Best Practices standard developed by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA).

The report is called, Raising the Stakes: A Comparative Review of Canadian Mining Law and Responsible Mining Standards.

Ontario fails to meet the standards in every single category.

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) standard is a leading example of international standards which was developed over 10 years engaging more than 100 organizations on how best to address environmental and social issues in mining. IRMA’s members include Anglo American, ArcelorMittal, Microsoft, Tiffany & Co., Jewellers of America, BMW, IndustriALL, United Steelworkers, First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining, Human Rights Watch and Earthworks.

The OTK report measures the extent to which these Canadian jurisdictions achieve best practices by comparing them to the IRMA Standard and making recommendations for improvements.

The report focuses on key elements of mining laws and policies such as: Community Engagement; Environmental Assessment; Free, Prior and Informed Consent; Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Protected Areas; Water Management; Waste Management; and, Reclamation, Closure and Security.

Although almost all Canadian jurisdictions do poorly in the comparison, Ontario is the only jurisdiction that fails the “community engagement” subsection in environmental assessment and the only jurisdiction with no environmental assessment for large mines. Ontario also allows some mining companies (like Vale) to self-assure instead of requiring reclamation bonds.