Time for mining to clean up its act – by Jacinda Mack and Loretta Williams (Vancouver Sun – May 16, 2018)


Jacinda Mack is co-founder of Stand for Water, a project of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM). Loretta Williams is chair of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining.

We are told that B.C.’s natural resources can play a key role in the global transition to a low-carbon future. From clean-energy cars and wind turbines that require copper, steelmaking coal and molybdenum, to silver and selenium for solar cells; it is said that the province has the potential to be a leader in clean-energy mining.

But supplying the essential ingredients for green energy is at risk, unless B.C. mining laws can enforce practices that uphold First Nations rights and the environment. Sadly, that’s not the case, and hasn’t been, since the first B.C. gold rush nearly 170 years ago.

First Nations’ experience of mining in B.C. has been negative from the outset. The Mount Polley tailings-dam disaster in 2014 was simply the latest in a history of destruction and misery caused by generations of badly regulated mining operations, an outdated Mines Act and the province’s failure to live up to its commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Canada has more mine-tailings spills than any other country in the world except China. Without significant changes to current mining practices, B.C. alone can expect two tailings-dam failures every 10 years.

As we witnessed after the Mount Polley disaster, damaged lakes and rivers threaten wild salmon and the way of life of First Nations communities that depend on them.

For the rest of this opinion column: http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/jacinda-mack-and-loretta-williams-time-for-mining-to-clean-up-its-act

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