Glenn Mullan is president of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.
Canada is a nation that is blessed with a rich supply of natural resources. It is one of our primary competitive advantages over other countries – but only if lands with mineral potential are available for exploration and development.
As governments increase protected land, they are also removing access to prospective areas for mineral exploration. Without decision-making processes that balance economic development opportunities with conservation goals, Canada becomes a less attractive place to explore sending mineral companies elsewhere, along with the jobs and economic benefits.
There is a diverse range of values associated with the use of land in Canada, including economic, ecological, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic. The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and the mineral exploration and development industry understand that there are times when the biodiversity or cultural values associated with a specific piece of land are so high that they must — and should — be protected. It is imperative that land-use processes take all of these factors into account to balance diverse goals and values.
However, where things go awry is when land protection decisions are made without a sound grounding in scientific evidence, leading to protections that may not be necessary to support biodiversity. Or when land-use decisions are made based primarily, or even solely, on biological data, without mineral resource assessments and the consideration of mineral potential.
As a result, mineral-rich lands are at risk of being withdrawn without the full economic consequences of those decisions being understood or thoroughly considered. Land protection decisions, in other words, are sometimes not made based on the full range of information available.
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