Assessment of Gaps and Needs for Environmental and Sustainability Standards for the Canadian Mining Sector

The Canadian mining sector plays an integral role in meeting the global need for minerals and metals.

The industry currently extracts more than 60 minerals and metals, and Canada is positioned among the top five countries in worldwide production of 16 major commodities, including:

  • gold
  • nickel
  • cobalt, and
  • diamonds

Canadian mining has taken important steps to reduce its environmental impacts and meet the broader challenges of sustainability. Environmental and social issues are consistently listed among the top challenges and risks facing the mining sector globally and in Canada.

The research has two broad objectives:

  1. To identify and characterize needs and gaps related to expectations and requirements for mining in Canada in the areas of environmental protection and management, mining innovation, and sustainability.
  2. To provide recommendations on where standards development could address those gaps and needs, with a focus on material issues and specific priorities for industry and regulators.

This report should be of interest to the Canadian mining industry, including companies and industry associations, mining sector regulators and policy-makers, mining-affected communities, and other sector stakeholders, including service providers and non-governmental organizations, working on environmental and sustainability issues.

The Canadian mining sector is facing emerging expectations, needs, and key challenges in a number of areas, including:

  • More stringent requirements and lower risk tolerance related to tailings and mine waste.
  • Evolving requirements related to Indigenous relations and reconciliation and stakeholder relations.
  • Growing expectations to deliver substantial socio-economic benefits to local communities.
  • Pressures to improve greenhouse gas emissions disclosure and to demonstrate understanding and adaptation of climate change impacts on mine operations.
  • Need to improve closure planning and management practices.

This research has identified several outstanding gaps and opportunities within the existing ecosystem of standards and guidelines where standards could potentially add value by providing rules, minimum specifications, performance levels, or technical specifications developed through a multi-stakeholder and consensus-based process.