Impacts of climate change on mining industry studied – by Sheila Bautz (Regina Leader Post – May 25, 2013)

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Natural Resources Canada is funding a project to examine the impacts of climate change on mining in Saskatchewan. The goal is to distribute the results of the project’s recommendation documents across Canada by compiling the information in a program called “Enhancing Competitiveness in a Changing Climate.”

The federal government is funding the Saskatchewan project entitled, “Risk To Mining Companies Related to Extreme Climate Events: Case Studies of Adaptation Actions Focusing On The Qu’Appelle Water Sheds” for inclusion with their program.

Although federally funded, the Water Security Agency (previously Saskatchewan Watershed Authority) is leading the provincial project. The Water Security Agency leads management of the province’s water resources to ensure safe drinking water sources and reliable water supplies for economic, environmental, and social benefits for the people of Saskatchewan. Ben Brodie has been contracted as the project manager by The Water Security Agency to deliver the project. Brodie is managing the extensive research team undertaking various areas of research and documenting case studies, as well as integrating input from different agencies involved with the mining industry in Saskatchewan.

“You don’t have to go far to see the impact the extremes have had on the region, the prairies have always had an extreme climate which has been highlighted in recent years with widespread flooding having a major impact around the province. If you read the research that has been done on the impacts of climate change in the prairies, it looks like the extremes – the excessive droughts and flooding – may become more common,” said Brodie.

Brodie and the research team are taking stock of the actions the mining industry has implemented in response to climate conditions in the past in order to provide future recommendations about how to plan for the impacts of both flooding and drought conditions.

“The project involves us working closely with the Saskatchewan Mining Association. They have provided us with a lot of guidance and input, which is good because what the federal government would like to see is more interaction between industry and government. So it’s nice to have everyone sitting down at the same table,” said Brodie.

With many team members working on various areas of research for the project, it is a collaborative effort. Along with coordinating the partners and ensuring the projects run smoothly and that case work is completed on time, Brodie is also contributing some research in the areas requiring his assistance.

“We’re not only working with The Saskatchewan Mining Association, but also with Saskatchewan Environment, the Ministry of Economy, and with the local stewardship groups in the Qu’Appelle Valley. It’s important that everybody has a say to ensure the relevant information is being collected,” said Brodie.

A collective effort, an in-kind tracking report tracks all the time that the people involved have contributed to the project. Sask Mining utilizes this to track the time invested into the project.

Brodie received his Bachelor of Science Honours in geography from the University of Saskatchewan in 2010 where he worked with Environment Canada in the Boreal Ecosystem Research and Monitoring sites (BERMS) research unit. After graduation, Brodie interned with the Prairie Adaptations Research Collaborative (PARC), which stimulated his interest understanding the historical climate of western Canada through natural proxies, such as tree rings.

Tree rings carry natural records that offer information on seasonal temperatures and wet and dry conditions in a region. The study of tree rings offers useful information about a region once trees are sampled and carefully assessed for good results.

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