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Canada's example

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Butler said that the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) is very closely aligned to ICMM’s approach. “Towards Sustainable Mining” (TSM) is MAC’s commitment to responsible mining – a set of tools and indicators to drive performance and ensure that key mining risks are managed responsibly at its members’ facilities. Butler also said that there are many other countries that want to pick up TSM.

One focus for MAC is relations with indigenous peoples in Canada, with whom some miners have negotiated and signed Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs). “I think are they are becoming much more thoughtful about how those are structured and it is much more of a partnership than it used to be,” said Butler. “That is very useful experience which Canadian companies will hopefully be able to translate into competitive advantage in other parts of the world where there are indigenous people.” He says that there are over 300 IBAs in Canada: “They are not a mandatory requirement. That has just become an accepted practice.”

ICMM members have committed to seek pre- and final informed consent for mining. “In other words, if you’re working with indigenous people, to obtain their consent before you proceed,” Butler explained. “But there are tomes written about what consent actually means: it doesn’t mean a veto by an individual – it means collective consent.”

ICMM has 17 members operating in Canada who also operate worldwide, so anything they implement in Canada can be spread globally.

Canada also has a very pro-active approach to climate change, particularly in British Columbia. The province has a carbon tax of $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, but is planning to increase that to $35 per tonne in 2018 and further still in subsequent years.
Butler asked an ICMM member recently about whether the tax has actually changed their behavior: “They said: ‘Yes, very substantially’.” For example, they replaced coal-based by gas-based processing and have experimented with using LPG-powered trucks instead of diesel.

Goldcorp, another ICMM member, is building the first all-electric underground mine at its Borden project near Chapleau in Ontario. “They will be up and running in 2019, which will be a very significant technical breakthrough,” said Butler. “I think it is the way a lot of the world is going to be going – starting with underground.” Other miners in Canada are making extensive use of renewable energy for their operations.

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