Environmentally sound projects within Canada save poorly regulated countries from unsafe developments
I grew up in B.C. and have been involved in conservation for my whole working life including conducting inspections and investigations at mine sites for Environment Canada.
Recently I had the opportunity to address the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panel hearings into the proposed New Prosperity mine in the Cariboo. You might be surprised to read that I am in favour of the New Prosperity proposal. The reasons I decided to speak in favour are many.
North America consumes a huge percentage of the world’s metal and mineral resources, yet we only extract about a third of those resources within our borders, relying on the rest of the world to satisfy our ever-increasing demands. As an example, the average lifespan of a new smartphone in North America is only 21 months from production to disposal. Even those among us who live a relatively simple lifestyle still utilize and benefit from the infrastructure we have developed to support our health care, education, transportation, communication and many other systems.
When we push environmental responsibility to countries that don’t have our tough environmental laws or enforcement, we do a disservice to the world, and often endanger their citizens. In many countries there are no environmental assessment panels to speak to and speaking out may be quite dangerous.
The current trend of increasing consumption in western nations coupled with a decline in mining in the western world will only make a serious problem worse. This certainly doesn’t mean we should approve substandard or flawed projects, but when one like New Prosperity comes along with huge benefits and very low risk, I believe it is our responsibility to approve it and not craft frivolous reasons to say no.
New Prosperity has certain attributes that make it very desirable when compared to other projects: it is located in a dry climate; contained within a very simple, single watershed; slopes are low to moderate; the project has a small footprint particularly compared to the economic benefit; and the technology used is modern and proven.
The proponent company itself is another significant positive feature. In my years conducting inspections and investigations I came to realize a great difference between local and internationally based companies, regardless of size. Multinational companies have layer upon layer of corporate protection that can be difficult to penetrate.
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