Media - 2018 Archive
COMMENTARY: Mineral surveys of Nova Scotia would help industry, enhance public safety
Published November 27, 2018
Just like biology, chemistry and physics – subjects many of us had to take in school – geoscience is essential to understanding the world around us.
Geoscience is the scientific study of our planet’s geology and its minerals, soil, water and energy resources. It tells us how Earth works.
The Mining Association of Nova Scotia recently released a report that calls for significant new provincial government investment in geoscience. Our Minerals Play Fairway report (www.tmans.ca/minerals-play-fairway) argues that $19.5 million should be invested in surveys to improve our understanding of Nova Scotia’s geology.
The industry’s goal is to find future mines and quarries, attract investment and create jobs for Nova Scotians. That is what we do.
But Nova Scotians would also benefit several other ways from the geoscience surveys we are proposing:
The surveys would help find potential geohazards and protect Nova Scotians from them.
For example, radon is a naturally occurring gas produced by radioactive decay of uranium, which is found in most rocks and soils in Nova Scotia. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking. Development should be better managed to reduce Nova Scotians’ exposure to high uranium levels in water and radon gas in houses.
Minerals Play Fairway would help identify areas with elevated uranium levels, and thereby protect Nova Scotians from this serious public health risk. (More information about radon and how to test for it in your home can be found on the Lung Association’s website. https://ns.lung.ca/lung-health/radon-gas.)
The sinkhole in Oxford’s Lions Club park is a current example of how geohazards can impact our safety and daily lives. It has been suggested that it is the result of an underground gypsum or salt deposit eroding in water and leaving a cavern which has caved in. Sinkholes are often caused by the natural erosion of minerals.
Coastal erosion is another example of a geohazard and an issue all Nova Scotians should be concerned about.
The surveys we are proposing would help the provincial government’s geoscience experts identify and map geohazards like these. They do excellent work protecting Nova Scotians and our infrastructure, but new, better data would help them in their work.
Minerals Play Fairway would also help us find and manage underground water sources, which is particularly important given climate change. The wells that ran dry this summer were a reminder of how important this is.
Minerals Play Fairway is modelled on the highly successful Nova Scotia oil and gas Play Fairway Analysis. In 2008, the Department of Energy commissioned a $15-million geoscience data program with the goal of stimulating offshore petroleum exploration. The data was made available for free to the global oil and gas industry and attracted over $2 billion in investment in Nova Scotia’s offshore. A minerals version of Play Fairway would provide a free, best-in-class database of geological knowledge that would also help attract investment and job creation.
The provincial government has made a series of policy decisions in recent years that have helped the mining industry grow and create jobs for Nova Scotians. These include extending the fuel tax rebate to mining, an excellent overhaul of the Mineral Resources Act, the establishment of the Mineral Resources Development Fund which funded the Minerals Play Fairway report, and giving the industry a higher profile within government with the creation of the Department of Energy and Mines.
The surveys outlined in Minerals Play Fairway are an important next step in helping the industry create new jobs.
Improving our geological knowledge of the province would also lead to improved safety for Nova Scotians and better land, water and environmental management.
Sean Kirby is executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia: Worth a second look
Published September 7, 2018
According to the Fraser Institute’s annual survey, Nova Scotia has a poor reputation among some global mining executives.
But we think recent developments in Nova Scotia make it worth a second look.
The Government of Nova Scotia has become a strong supporter of mining in recent years and has made a series of policy decisions designed to help the industry grow and create jobs.
In 2017 the provincial government extended its fuel tax rebate to our industry. The rebate is now saving producers 15.5 cents per litre of fuel consumed on mine, quarry and pit sites.
In 2016 the government overhauled our Mineral Resources Act for the first time in a quarter century. The new Act cuts red tape and unnecessary costs, while continuing to hold the industry to the highest environmental and operational standards.
In spring 2018 the government established the Mineral Resources Development Fund (MRDF), a grant program that supports prospecting, advanced exploration, minerals-related research and public education.
MRDF is supporting many projects, including a needs assessment analysis of the province’s publicly-available airborne geophysical data. The needs assessment, which will be complete this fall, will identify strengths and weaknesses in Nova Scotia’s minerals database and make recommendations for how to improve it in order to reduce exploration risks and costs and shorten the exploration cycle. This is the first step in what we are calling the Minerals Play Fairway, a project we hope will lead to a best-in-class, government-funded geophysical database that helps attract investment and job creation to the province.
This summer, the province gave the mining industry a higher profile within government by removing mining from the former Department of Natural Resources and creating a new Department of Energy and Mines. This change highlights the government’s focus on supporting the industry and places mining within a department that has a proven track record of economic development.
These policy decisions contributed to making 2017 a turnaround year for Nova Scotia’s mining industry.
Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy mine has started production and is proving that Nova Scotia’s Meguma gold deposits can be profitably mined. The company’s Moose River Consolidated Project, which will see several satellite deposits opened in coming years, is making the global mining industry take a second look at Nova Scotia’s potential for gold.
Anaconda Mining recently registered its Goldboro Gold Project with the province’s Environment department and is working toward starting pre-production in 2020.
Kameron Collieries began construction on the Donkin coal mine in 2015 and started production in 2017. Kameron is selling to Nova Scotia Power for domestic power generation and continues to explore the international metallurgical export market.
Success breeds success and there is a great deal of exploration activity taking place in Nova Scotia these days. For example, MegumaGold recently completed one of the largest airborne programs in Nova Scotia’s recent exploration history.
We believe increased support from our provincial government combined with the success of companies like these will lead to better results for Nova Scotia in the annual Fraser Institute survey. Most importantly, it will lead to greater understanding of Nova Scotia’s mineral potential and more job creation and investment in the province. Recent developments in Nova Scotia make it worth a second look.
Fuel tax rebate comes into effect for Nova Scotia-based mining companies
Published: May 5, 2018
Today marks the first day that Nova Scotia mining companies can apply for fuel tax rebates for fuel consumed at mines, quarries and pits.
“Getting the rebate is a tremendous win for Nova Scotia’s mining industry and a clear indication of the government's support of our industry,” said Sean Kirby, Executive Director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS). “This policy change sends a signal to the global mining industry that Nova Scotia is open for business and wants the jobs and investment that mining can bring to the province.”
Provincial fuel tax is supposed to help pay for public roads and highways by charging the vehicle owners who use them. The Nova Scotia government gives other resource industries a tax rebate for fuel used in vehicles that do not go on public roads, such as fishing boats, farm tractors and forestry harvesters. Nova Scotia has excluded the mining and quarrying industry from the rebate since the 1980s, even though most of the industry's vehicles also do not use public roads.
The fuel tax rebate will save producers 15.5 cents per litre of gas and 15.4 cents per litre of diesel consumed on mine, quarry and pit sites. The total savings are estimated to be $1.6 million this year.
The provincial government’s fall 2017 budget extended the rebate to the mining and quarrying industry and recent regulatory changes make this the first week that companies are able to actually submit rebate applications.
“The provincial government’s support of the industry contributed to a banner year for mining in Nova Scotia in 2017,” said Kirby. “Three major new mines opened, representing hundreds of new jobs for Nova Scotians and hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment in the province. Policy decisions like the fuel tax rebate, the excellent 2016 overhaul of the Mineral Resources Act and the recently-established Mineral Resources Development Fund have helped make this success possible.”
Nova Scotia’s mining and quarrying industry employs 5500 Nova Scotians and generates $420 million per year in economic activity.
Protected areas ‘harming’ Cape Breton’s economy: mining official
MANS asking provincial government to strike a ‘better balance’ between protecting jobs and protecting land
Published: August 2, 2018
Source: Cape Breton Post
We all support protecting land but we need to avoid unnecessarily harming our economy. Unfortunately, government documents prove that the province’s protected areas plan is harming the mining industry in Cape Breton.
When the previous government released the protected areas plan, it said it had taken economic potential, including mineral potential, into account when choosing which lands to protect. Documents on the government’s web site suggest otherwise. Seventy-six percent of the protected areas discussed in detail on the government’s site have medium and/or high mineral potential, according to the government’s own analysis.
The Parks and Protected Areas plan identified 782 areas for protection. MANS was able to find pages on Nova Scotia Environment’s web site for 179 of those areas which included NSE’s assessment of whether the areas have low, medium or high mineral potential. Of the 179 areas, 137 (76 percent) are considered by NSE to have medium and/or high mineral potential. Fifty-eight areas (32 percent) are considered by NSE to have high mineral potential.
Cape Breton contains 32 protected areas that NSE believes have medium and/or high mineral potential, more than any other region of the province.
Of the 179 areas, 35 (20 percent) had mineral claims staked in them when the previous government chose to include them in the protected areas plan. Twelve of those areas are in Cape Breton, again, more than in any other region of the province. Claims being staked by the industry are clear evidence of mineral potential in those sites.
If the 137 areas we reviewed are representative of the protected areas plan in general, the plan will harm the province’s economy forever by protecting hundreds of sites that could otherwise potentially be used to create jobs for Cape Bretoners and all Nova Scotians.
The NSE documents suggest the economy was not a significant factor for the previous government as it rushed to choose protected areas before calling the 2013 election. The protected areas plan was released on August 1, 2013 and the previous government called the election five weeks later on September 7.
MANS is asking the provincial government to strike a better balance between protecting jobs and protecting land by adding a “land swap” mechanism to the protected lands regulatory regime. This would allow mining and quarrying companies to access protected land by purchasing land of at least equal size and ecological value outside of the protected areas and arranging for it to be protected instead. Proposed land swaps would be fully regulated by the provincial government, on a case-by-case basis, to ensure there is a net benefit to the province.
We believe land swaps would be a win-win for the environment and the economy – a way to protect our most beautiful and ecologically-unique areas while also fostering the job creation and economic growth Cape Breton and Nova Scotia need.
Mining industry seeks land swap mechanism
Published: July 30, 2018
Source: Chronicle Herald
The province’s mining industry is proposing a land swap mechanism to address what it describes as disproportionate harm to the industry from Nova Scotia’s protected areas plan.
In a release, the Mining Association of Nova Scotia asks the province to “strike a better balance between protecting jobs and protecting land.”
“When the previous government released the protected areas plan, it said it had taken economic potential, including mineral potential, into account when choosing which lands to protect,” said Sean Kirby, executive director of MANS. “Documents on the government’s website suggest otherwise. Seventy-six per cent of the protected areas discussed in detail on the government’s site have medium or high mineral potential, according to the government’s own analysis. We all support protecting land but we need to avoid unnecessarily harming our economy.”
The Parks and Protected Areas plan, completed in 2013, identified 782 areas for protection. MANS says it completed analysis of government documents related to 179 of those areas, documents that included assessment of whether the areas have low, medium or high mineral potential.
Of the 179, more than three quarters are considered by the province to have medium and/or high mineral potential, 32 per cent are considered to have high mineral potential and 20 per cent had mineral claims staked in them when the previous government chose to include them in the protected areas plan.
“These documents suggest the economy was not a significant factor for the previous government as it rushed to choose protected areas,” said Kirby. “If these areas are representative of the plan in general, the plan will harm the province’s economy forever by protecting hundreds of sites that could otherwise potentially be used to create jobs for Nova Scotians.”
Nova Scotia’s mining and quarrying industry employs 5,500 people.
The previous provincial government released the protected areas plan on Aug. 1, 2013, and called an election five weeks later. MANS believes a rush to finish the plan before the election contributed to flaws in the land selection process.
The MANS proposed land swap mechanism would allow mining and quarrying companies to access protected land by purchasing land of at least equal size and ecological value outside the protected areas, and arranging for it to be protected instead. Proposed land swaps would be fully regulated by the provincial government, on a case-by-case basis, to ensure there is a net benefit to the province.
The online documents reviewed by MANS can be found at https://novascotia.ca/parksandprotectedareas/plan/lands-profiles/.
MANS pushes government to start strategic mineral analysis
Published: July 16, 2018
Source: Chronicle Herald
Mining association wants what offshore oil has
The Nova Scotia government’s recent funding announcement is a step toward creation of a mineral version of the province’s oil and gas Play Fairway Analysis, according to the Mining Association of Nova Scotia.
The government’s new Mineral Resources Development Fund introduced in the 2018-19 provincial budget is providing $62,000 to conduct “a needs assessment” of the province’s publicly held airborne geophysical data, the mining association said in a news release.
The needs assessment will identify strengths and weaknesses in Nova Scotia’s minerals database and will recommend how to improve it, in order to attract more investment and job creation to the province, said Sean Kirby, the association’s executive director.
“The government … is making strategic investments to help the mining industry grow and create new jobs for Nova Scotians,” Kirby said in a news release.
In 2008, the Nova Scotia government commissioned a $15 million Play Fairway Analysis and Geoscience Data Package program with the goal of stimulating offshore petroleum exploration activity. The resulting data was made available for free to the oil and gas industry and attracted more than $2 billion worth of investment in Nova Scotia’s offshore, the mining group said.
“The needs assessment project is the first step toward building a minerals version of Play Fairway — a free, best-in-class database of geological knowledge that will help attract mining companies to Nova Scotia. The oil and gas Play Fairway was a made-in-Nova-Scotia success story and we want to copy it for the minerals industry,” he said.
The association is also praising the government for giving the mining industry a higher profile within government by removing mining from the Department of Natural Resources and creating a new Department of Energy and Mines.
Mining Sector needs Flexibility in Protected Areas
Published: June 5, 2018
Source: Chronicle Herald
The premiers of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have both expressed concerns recently about the federal government’s plans for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Premiers McNeil and Ball have argued, perfectly reasonably, that conservation decisions must take into account economic impacts and be based on science.
The mining and quarrying industry has basically the same concerns about Nova Scotia’s protected lands plan that our provincial government has about federal MPAs.
Premier McNeil put it, “We will work with the federal government on the objective of more marine protected areas, but it has to be done in a way that allows Nova Scotians to maximize the value of our resources."
He has also stated, “To date, we are not seeing decisions based on science, research or fact. If the decisions are not going to be based on science, it begs the question, 'On what will they be based?'"
Sometimes things that sound simple are actually quite complicated. We all agree on the importance of conservation. That’s simple. But protecting the right areas, and protecting them the right way, is complicated.
The previous provincial government released the protected lands plan on August 1, 2013, and called an election five weeks later on September 7. The rush to finish the plan before the election led to two significant issues with it:
First, economic impacts were not sufficiently taken into account when lands were chosen. In the case of our industry, protected areas overlap 5.5 per cent of the province’s known mineral occurrences, and are harming or outright blocking numerous potential projects that could otherwise create hundreds of new jobs for Nova Scotians.
Second, protected areas are not always the beautiful, ecologically-unique lands we expect.
The plan includes sites like clear cuts, logging roads, former mines, quarries and pits and pipelines. It even includes a Second World War weapons range that is believed to contain unexploded ordnance. The Department of National Defence warns against even entering the area due to potential danger from unexploded bombs, but the site is still included in the protected areas plan.
So, how can we reduce the protected lands plan’s economic impact while also improving the ecological value of the lands it protects? Again, the provincial government’s comments about MPAs are instructive.
A 2017 letter written by the provincial government says, “.… federal marine protection designations (should) include a means to consider future access. The changing dynamics of our ocean and fisheries resources require adaptive approaches that support the continued resilience and economic growth of Nova Scotia’s industry.”
We think that sounds a lot like our proposal for a “land swap” mechanism that would allow mining and quarrying companies, in exceptional cases only, to swap small amounts of protected land for unprotected land.
This “means to consider future access” would make it possible to pursue some of the economic opportunities that are currently being blocked. Just as important, it would allow us to improve our protected areas by swapping out sites that clearly should not be in the plan for sites that better-meet our environmental goals. The overall amount of protected land, and its ecological value, would be increased. A win-win for the environment and the economy.
The provincial government argues that MPAs are too inflexible, but MPAs are already significantly more flexible than the province’s protected lands plan. The rules for MPAs are customized to accommodate the unique circumstances of each site, and some existing and proposed MPAs even allow for fishing and oil and gas industry activity in order to balance conservation and economic goals. The protected lands plan, on the other hand, imposes a one-size-fits-all approach on the 782 areas it identifies for protection and allows no flexibility for resource industries.
If the Government of Nova Scotia believes the federal process for choosing MPAs has not been perfect, it might consider the possibility that its own process for choosing protected lands was also not perfect.
We all agree on the importance of conservation but a little flexibility in the protected lands plan would allow us to achieve both our environmental and economic goals – exactly what the province wants the federal government to do with MPAs.
COMMENTARY: Mining industry argues it follows strict water management rules
Published: April 5, 2018
By: Sean Kirby
The Mining Association of Nova Scotia would like to respond to questions about how the mining industry takes care of water raised in “Department of Natural Resources delays gold exploration proposals” (March 29).
Mining and quarrying is an environmentally-responsible industry that is stringently regulated by the provincial government. The province’s regulatory regime helps ensure that Nova Scotians enjoy the full benefits of the materials we take from the ground, and that the industry operates in a safe, sustainable, responsible fashion.
Two major new gold mines were opened in Nova Scotia in 2017, and a number of companies are currently doing gold exploration in the province. These projects have created hundreds of new jobs for Nova Scotians with more opportunities anticipated in coming years.
Water is used on mine and quarry sites for various purposes, such as controlling dust and as part of processing. Mines and quarries test water discharges on at least a monthly basis and treat it to ensure water quality is within acceptable levels. Water released back into a river or lake is often cleaner after it has been used in a mine or quarry than it was beforehand. Companies are required to submit regular reports to the government to ensure they are compliant with all rules and regulations.
Gold in Nova Scotia is generally not found in nuggets; it is found in tiny flecks, often microscopically small. Because those flecks are usually within rock, it has to be separated from the rock using various processes. Cyanide leaching has been the main gold extraction technology since the 1970s because it is more effective, safer and has less environmental impact than other options, such as mercury. Cyanide leaching is usually done along with a physical process like milling, crushing, flotation and gravity separation.
Mining operations use the smallest amount of cyanide necessary to extract gold effectively. This reduces cost and environmental concerns. Mining operations also recycle cyanide and remove it from tailings before tailings are released to a tailings management facility. Any residual cyanide in tailings naturally photodegrades with exposure to air and sunlight.
Cyanide is a naturally occurring chemical that is found throughout nature. At least 1,000 species of plants, micro-organisms and insects are capable of producing cyanide. Foods such as coffee, almonds, lima beans and table salt all contain small amounts of naturally-occurring cyanide.
Cyanide does not persist in the environment and is quickly and naturally broken down when exposed to sunlight and air. The human body has a natural ability to detoxify small quantities of cyanide, so it generally poses little risk.
Sean Kirby is executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia.
Mining Association applauds budget
Published: March 21, 2018
Source: Chronicle Herald
The Mining Association of Nova Scotia has endorsed the latest Nova Scotia provincial budget, released on Tuesday.
The budget provides funding for the establishment of the Mineral Resources Development Fund, and as one would expect the mining association has described the initiate as “a smart, strategic investment in the future.”
Sean Kirby, executive director of the mining association, said in a news release Wednesday the budget includes $700,000 for the resource development fund in 2018-19. The fund is expected to have seven funding options this fiscal year.
Prospecting and exploration grants to a maximum of $20,000
• Shared-funding exploration grants of more than $20,000, up to $200,000, shared 50-50
• Marketing grants
• Research grants to a $90,000 maximum
• Education, outreach, and engagement grants at a maximum of $30,000
• Innovation grants to a maximum of $200,000
• Major project grants of $500,000 or more if require
Inflexible land protections rob Nova Scotians of economic opportunity
Published January 20, 2018
Source: Chronicle Herald (http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1538437-opinion-inflexible-land-pr…)
By: Sean Kirby
The Mining Association of Nova Scotia started a public dialogue about the provincial government’s Parks and Protected Areas Plan in these pages in the fall. Since then, we have issued a series of news releases, maps, videos and pictures which substantiate that the process for choosing protected areas was not perfect and has created two significant issues. (Visit tmans.ca to see the materials.)
First, the protected areas plan is harming the mining industry’s ability to create jobs and economic growth for Nova Scotians. Protected areas overlap 5.5 per cent of the province’s known mineral occurrences, and are harming or outright blocking numerous potential projects. The plan also disproportionately harms some parts of the province. For example, Cape Breton contains 30 per cent of the total amount of protected land in Nova Scotia, even though it only contains 19 per cent of the province’s land mass. The economies of Halifax County, Cumberland, Colchester and Guysborough are also particularly hard-hit.
The warden of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, discussing his council’s concerns with the plan, wrote in November that “there has never been an economic development potential assessment of any of the properties protected, or proposed for protection.” We clearly need to do a better job considering economic factors before protecting land.
Second, protected areas are not always the beautiful, ecologically-unique lands we expect.
In the previous government’s rush to finish the plan – it was released Aug. 1, 2013, and an election was called on Sept. 7 – sites like clearcuts, logging roads, former mines, quarries and pits and pipelines were included. It even included a Second World War weapons range that is believed to contain unexploded ordnance. The Department of National Defence warns against even entering the area due to potential danger from unexploded bombs, but the site is still included in the protected areas plan.
To help address these flaws in the plan, MANS is asking the provincial government to create a “land swap” mechanism that would allow mining and quarrying companies, in exceptional cases only, to swap small amounts of protected land for unprotected land.
This would make it possible to pursue some of the economic opportunities that are currently being blocked. Just as important, it would allow us to improve our protected areas; to swap out sites that clearly should not be in the plan – an artillery range? – for sites that better meet our environmental goals. The overall amount of protected land, and its ecological value, would be increased. A win-win for the environment and the economy.
A land swap mechanism would allow us to have dialogue about whether specific projects should be allowed to proceed; whether environmental and social concerns can be accommodated through discussion and compromise; or indeed, whether certain lands should simply remain protected.
Unfortunately, the protected areas plan prevents that sort of dialogue and innovative thinking because it is completely inflexible – once land is protected, it must remain protected forever, regardless of all other considerations. Economic opportunities are forever lost, and we cannot lift protection on sites regardless of how poorly they fit the plan’s goals.
It is also worth noting that our concerns about the protected areas plan are basically the same as the provincial government’s concerns about federal Marine Protected Areas. A 2017 letter written by provincial cabinet ministers states: “We believe environmental protection and economic development can both be part of thriving Nova Scotia communities. When considering long-term, area-based protection, it is critically important to base these important decisions on rigorous science and to thoroughly consider potential benefits to the environment as well as impacts to the economy.”
Another provincial letter says, “.… federal marine protection designations (should) include a means to consider future access. The changing dynamics of our ocean and fisheries resources require adaptive approaches that support the continued resilience and economic growth of Nova Scotia’s industry.”
In context of land-based protection, that sounds like land swaps.
We all agree on the importance of protecting land, but we need to protect the right land. We should protect our most beautiful and ecologically-unique areas, and we should not protect lands of low ecological value and those that have significant economic potential.
The protected areas plan is not perfect. Let’s work to improve it while also creating much-needed jobs and economic opportunity.
Sean Kirby is executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia.
Preserving Nova Scotia’s Communities
Published January 20, 2018
Source: Chronicle Herald
By: Bill Black
Nova Scotians are anxious to protect and preserve the many aspects of our province that make it such an attractive place to live, work, and play. We do not always ask ourselves to list what those aspects are.
We would like our streams and rivers to flow with clean water that supports abundant wildlife. We want to preserve the natural beauty of our coastlines, and our farms and forests.
Sometimes the urge to protect those from every form of resource development puts other treasures of our province at risk.
Nova Scotia is blessed with attractive towns and villages in every part of the province. Most of them have long histories.
Many of them, especially those more than 100 kilometers from the urban core of Halifax, are already in decline. In 2016 Liverpool’s population of 2,549 was down 16% over the last 20 years, and down 31% since 1961. The decline in young people is much greater; 30% of the population is 65 or older.
The comparable declines in Springhill are 35% in the last 20 years and 53% since 1961. For Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the declines are 18% and 28%.
Declines like these are occurring in many more communities. Some of them are due to the greatly reduced coal industry because major employers like Sydney Steel or Bowater close. As well, greater mechanization means that tree harvesting requires fewer, higher-paying jobs. Larger boats with better gear mean that fewer, better-paid fishermen are needed to harvest most species.
There are nevertheless many opportunities.
Aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry worldwide. By far the largest portion is marine based finfish, primarily salmon. Nova Scotia’s production has been stagnant for several years as a result of a moratorium on new sites begun in 2013 and continued until recently. During that period a much more robust regulatory environment has been put in place.
Most Nova Scotians are now supportive of the industry, but we can still expect some shrill voices of opposition to be heard. Nevertheless, Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell is now strongly supportive of strong, responsible growth of the marine finfish industry.
Forestry is the most geographically diverse industry in the province with harvesting and/or processing happening in every county. There are 6,100 direct jobs, almost double the employment at Nova Scotia’s three Michelin plants. There are between 25,000 and 30,000 private woodlot owners, who own and control what happens in 65% of the forests.
Knocking down trees reduces habitat for wildlife. So does every other human resource development, such as wind turbines which continue to kill birds after they are built. The trees grow back.
Some people flying into Halifax find it upsetting to see evidence of a clearcut from the air. The trade-off is that it is safer for workers and helps the industry to be cost-competitive. Some of the wood is used as a bio-fuel, which is not great but is much better than fossil fuels. The trees grow back. We are in no danger of running out.
Mining and quarrying, which provide about 3,000 jobs, are enjoying a bit of a resurgence in Nova Scotia with gold-bearing properties on the Eastern Shore being newly exploited.
Most mines are invisible except from the air. Few Nova Scotians would know about the 40-hectare gypsum mine employing 100 people a few miles east of highway 102. It and similar projects employ progressive reclamation schemes using overburden from new areas to backfill areas where the resource has been exhausted.
It is instructive that the Cabot Links golf course (ranked #43 in the world outside the US) is built on an abandoned coal mine. Building its sister course Cabot Cliffs (ranked #9) required a lot of trees to be knocked down. Most of the discomfited birds, being mobile, will have found new habitat in the plentiful neighbouring forests.
Those courses have brought enormous benefit to Inverness and the surrounding areas. They have revived what was a dying town. Yet, at the hint that a third course may be built, there are already voices of opposition.
Finally, there is fracking. The just released Onshore Petroleum Atlas points to a potential $20 billion-$60 billion resource. Replacing coal with that gas can substantially reduce our carbon footprint.
The best land-based opportunities are in west Hants, Cumberland, and Colchester counties, including many lightly populated areas.
It would be wrong for the province to bulldoze ahead, given the present political climate. But if fracking was half as bad as the opponents make out the people of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC would be up in arms.
In fact, NDP governments elected in Alberta, and more recently in BC, have continued to welcome the industry. People there generally understand and accept the tradeoffs.
It would be instructive for groups of Nova Scotian politicians and community leaders to visit those provinces, where the risks are well understood and managed. Perhaps that would lead to better informed decision making.
Resource industries do not ask for handouts to create jobs for communities. They just want a sound and predictable set of rules to follow.
Activists like to call for environmental impact statements for almost any resource initiative, even if the proposal is clearly within the established regulatory framework. Often, this is just a delaying tactic.
If they must happen, let those investigations include impact on the viability of the communities, and the people living in them, that would profit from the proposals. Jobs are necessary for human habitats to survive. The people living in those communities deserve the opportunity to remain and prosper.
Mining association eyes Staples Brook land
Published January 15, 2018
Source: Truro Daily News
By: Harry Sullivan
The Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) is calling on the provincial government to consider a land-swap arrangement involving protected areas that hold potential mining value.
And one such area of interest to MANS is the Staples Brook Nature Reserve, a section of the former Camp Debert, which overlaps a coal deposit that has been mined in the past and “could potentially become a future mine if it is not blocked by the land being protected.”
“When most Nova Scotians think of protected areas, they picture beautiful, pristine, natural lands,” said MANS executive director Sean Kirby, in the release.
“The truth is the protected areas plan includes many sites that do not live up to that expectation,” he added. “In the previous government’s rush to release the plan, it included sites like clear cuts, logging roads, former mines, quarries and pits, and pipelines. It even included a former weapons range that is believed to contain unexploded ordnance.”
That statement is in reference to the former Staples Brook Range in Debert, a pending protected area, which was a satellite facility of the military camp during the Second World War and was used for weapons training. Grenades, mortars, anti-tank artillery and anti-aircraft munitions were used at the range, which is now considered a medium risk for unexploded explosive ordnance, according to the Department of National Defence (DND).
In 2013, the DND Legacy Sites Program held information sessions in Debert to create awareness about the potential risks from unexploded ordnance (UXO) on the former military base.
The Legacy Sites Program was initiated in 2005 to clean up UXO on former military bases. During the 2013 information sessions, a spokesperson said about 2,500 UXOs had been discovered around the Debert property in the previous year by a company hired by the DND to search them out. Other isolated finds had also been reported in the years prior to that.
The DND also posted danger signs in 2012 warning people against entering the Staples Brook Range due to the potential for unexploded ordnance.
Kirby said MANS recently released a report which details how the protected areas plan harms dozens of potential mineral projects and makes it harder for the industry to create new jobs for Nova Scotians. The report is entitled: A Better Balance: How we can protect jobs and land for Nova Scotians.
And he suggested the provincial government could strike a better balance between protecting jobs and protecting land by adding a land swap mechanism to the protected lands regulatory regime.
“This would allow mining and quarrying companies to access protected land by purchasing land of at least equal size and ecological value outside of the protected areas and arranging for it to be protected instead,” he said.
And that in turn would ensure the total amount of protected land remains the same or grows, that the ecological value of protected lands remains the same or grows and Nova Scotians would continue to be able to access the minerals they need to create jobs and grow the economy.
Kirby said proposed land swaps could be fully regulated by the provincial government on a case-by-case basis to ensure there is a net benefit to the province. The government could even require that the land being swapped in by the company be larger and/or more ecologically valuable than the protected land being swapped out,” he said.
“This creates the potential to not only maintain but also improve the government’s portfolio of protected lands, creating a win-win for both the economy and the environment.”
According to MANS figures, approximately 5,500 people are employed in the province’s mining and quarrying industry.
OPINION: Finer balance needed between land protection, resource exploitation
Published January 4, 2018
Source: The Chronicle Herald
By: Glenn Mullan
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.
The Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) recently issued a new report about how the provincial government's Parks and Protected Areas Plan is hurting the mining industry and its ability to find new mines and create new jobs for Nova Scotians.
MANS has argued that mineral potential and economic concerns were not sufficiently taken into account when lands were selected for protection by the previous provincial government. The evidence supports MANS' view.
MANS' report shows that 5.5 per cent of all known mineral occurrences in the province overlap with protected lands, including 59 past-producing mines, quarries and pits, and sites that might otherwise be returned to production to create jobs for Nova Scotians. MANS' report identifies dozens of mineral deposits and potential projects that are impacted, or halted, by the protected areas plan. A decision-making process that included a comprehensive mineral resource assessment and adequately considered Nova Scotia's mineral potential would not have affected so many known mineral resources.
The impact of the plan on economically-challenged parts of the province, and areas with long histories of mining, also suggests that economic concerns were not adequately considered. There is something wrong with a process that results in Cape Breton, where mining began 350 years ago, containing 30 per cent of all protected land in the province despite having only 19 per cent of the province's land mass. Counties like Cumberland, Colchester and Guysborough are also seeing their economic potential curtailed by the plan. A better process for choosing protected lands would have resulted in the economic impact being more fairly shared across the province.
There are examples across Canada where land-use decisions balance land protection and biodiversity while also supporting job creation.
In the Northwest Territories, the expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve resulted in the Prairie Creek Mine being situated in the middle of a national park. However, the federal government exempted the mine site so that the mine could proceed. Government also created a corridor through the protected land that allowed a road to be built to the mine. When mining operations are complete, the land will be reclaimed and likely become part of the park.
In British Columbia, the Myra Falls mine is bounded by two different provincial parks -- it was given special zoning to operate by the provincial government because of its economic importance. According to the government of British Columbia, "constant monitoring ensures that environmental concerns and public safety are an integral part of the continuing mine program. It is interesting to note that not only are recreational activities not impeded by mining activities, but mine tours have become an important attraction for park visitors." The Myra Falls mine will also become part of the parks when reclaimed.
PDAC and mining associations across the country support the need to protect certain lands for various purposes, including biodiversity. However, we also recognize the importance of balancing conservation goals with society's need for the economic benefits our industry generates, and the materials that we supply. Land-use decision-making processes must balance diverse goals and values and also be credible, inclusive and evidence-based.
Glenn Mullan is president of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.
Students urged to enter mining association video contest
Thousands of dollars in cash prizes to be won
Published: January 2, 2018
Source: Truro Daily
By: Harry Sullivan email@example.com
HALIFAX - Junior high and high school students across Nova Scotia are being reminded to act fast if they plan to enter the Mining ROCKS video contest.
Sponsored by the Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS), the contest involves the production of short videos about mining and quarrying. The winners in five different categories will be awarded $1,000, with $500 going to the runner-ups.
There is a total of $8,000 in prize money.
Students who get their videos in by the end of Friday, however, will be entered into a draw to win two, $250 early-bird prizes.
“The student video contest is great fun,” said MANS executive director Sean Kirby. “The kids are so clever and creative with the things that they come up with that it’s a lot of fun to see how they do it and how impressive it is both from a technological perspective and a research perspective.”
The videos can be about virtually any aspect of mining and quarrying, including its economic importance, environment and reclamation, historical facts and beneficial end-uses of mining products.
“It’s really wonderful each year to see the things that kids create as part of the contest and from our perspective its an opportunity for them to have some fun and learn a bit about the industry and to show off the skills that they have,” Kirby said.
This is the fourth year that MANS has run the video contest. Kirby said they often hear from high school students who take home the prize money that they plan to use it for post secondary education.
The final deadline for video entries is Feb. 23.
Students upload their videos to the MANS website and the panel of judges, who are mainly independent of the industry, will pick the winners for the Best Junior High School Video, Best High School Video, Best Comedy and Best 30-Second Commercial.
A fifth category, the People’s Choice, will be decided by the public through an online vote.
The judges include Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller, Truro Mayor Bill Mills, Colchester Mayor Christine Blair, Membertou Chief Terry Paul and a range of film and media experts.
For more information, go to www.NotYourGrandfathersMining.ca/contest