Consideration for environment, indigenous rights imperative for Atlantic Canada – by John Harker (Halifax Chronicle Herald – August 22, 2017)

I was privileged to spend a decade as the president of a university in Atlantic Canada. Hanging on my office wall during those years was a faded parchment signed by Winston Churchill, then home secretary of Great Britain, on Aug. 23, 1910.

It was a second-class certificate of competency under the Coal Mines Regulation Act awarded to one of my grandfathers, John Charles Matson, for having passed an examination and given satisfactory evidence of his sobriety, experience, ability and general good conduct.

I see it now — though I did not much think about it when I was growing up — as an early sign of awareness about the need for responsible mining. The need for this has surely marked the development of Atlantic Canada during these past 150 years. I do not intend to catalogue those years here, though I do want to share a few thoughts about the need for responsible mining in the years ahead.

Recently, Canadian Press reporters have brought to our attention some interesting developments in our region. First, we were treated to a review of “old mines” being made “new again.” The Atlantic Gold Corporation and Newfoundland’s Anaconda are busy, as gold miners, reviving a very old industry, using new technologies and, hopefully, new approaches to environmental, social and governmental impacts and possibilities.

Then there was news of a federal environmental assessment approval for an intended tungsten mine, the Sisson Mine, in New Brunswick. If developed, it will be the only working tungsten mine in North America.

The mine is forecast to generate 500 jobs during construction and maintain 300 jobs during operation. Mineral royalties and tax revenues will add to the benefits but, of course, there could be risks and negative impacts.

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