The Social Dimension Sustainable Development Mining Industry

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Natural Resources Ressources naturelles
Minerals and
Secteur des minéraux
Metals Sector
et des métaux
Ressources naturelles Natural Resources
Secteur des minéraux
Minerals and
et des métaux
Metals Sector
Social Dimension of
Sustainable Development
and the Mining Industry


Natural Resources Ressources naturelles
Minerals and
Secteur des minéraux
Metals Sector
et des métaux
Ressources naturelles Natural Resources
Secteur des minéraux
Minerals and
et des métaux
Metals Sector
Social Dimension of
Sustainable Development
and the Mining Industry
A B a c k g r o u n d P a p e r
N o v e m b e r 2 0 0 3
P r e p a r e d b y
Lise-Aurore Lapalme
Sustainable Development
Policy Integration Division
Mineral and Metal Policy Branch

© Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada – 2003
Catalogue no. M37-52/2003E
ISBN 0-662-35211-4
Additional copies of this publication are available in
limited quantities at no charge from:
Minerals and Metals Sector
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4
Telephone: (613) 947-6580
Facsimile: (613) 952-7501
E-mail: [email protected]
It is also available on the Internet at:
Cette publication est aussi disponible en français, sous le titre
La dimension sociale du développement durable dans l’industrie minière
No de catalogue : M37-52/2003F
ISBN : 0-662-75031-4
Note to Reader
This document is not intended to represent official views of the
Government of Canada. Rather, it puts forward some information
and ideas that may be of interest and that may promote further
discussion on the social dimension of sustainable development.
This publication is printed
on recycled paper.

Table of Contents
Mining Prior to European Settlement
Harvest and Move
Exploration and Settlement
Tran sportation Infrastructure
Related Development
Ab origin als in B ritish C olum bia
Ensuring Regional Economic Development
Fly-In Mining
Northern Development
Environmental Concerns and Sustainable Development
Healthy People, Healthy Environment
Health and Safety
Health Care
Aboriginal Peoples
Wom en
Religious and Cultural Values
Innovation and Learning
Econom ic Diversification
Vigorous and Proud C ommu nities
Community Involvement
Ou tsiders

Displacement of Populations
Mine Closure
Types of Practices
Catalogue of S ocial Practices in the Canadian Minerals
and Metals Industry
Corporate Social R esponsibility
The R ole of Social Concerns in the Evolution of Industry Practices
Social Tools and Opportunities
Time as an Element of Risks and Opp ortunities
Some E xamples

1. Introduction
The settlement and development of Canada is inextricably linked to the discovery and exploitation of
natural resources. Beginning with fish and fur, and continuing with minerals, petroleum, forests and other
resources, Canada’s social history is closely tied to natural resources. Today, a strong natural resources
sector, together w ith healthy man ufacturing and service sectors, make for a stron g econom y overall.
Natural resources development, which was long characterized by an attitude of harvest and then move on
to another region, is now facing the imperatives of sustainable development. First defined in Our
Com mo n Fu ture
, the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development report known as the
Brundtland R eport, sustainable development is becoming the operating paradigm for natural resource
The Brundtland definition of sustainable development as development that “meets the needs of the
presen t withou t comp romising the ab ility of future generations to m eet their ow n needs” is w ell know n.
The concept of sustainable development as the integration of economic, environmental and social
dimensions has become a model for thinking and policy-making.
The Whitehorse Mining Initiative, a process in which the mining industry, senior governments, labour
unions, Ab origin al peoples and the environm ental com mu nity discussed ways to seek a sustainable
mining industry, endorsed sustainable development, but also went farther. It identified the fact that the
social, econ omic and en viron mental d imensions are con stantly chan ging, requ iring the ability to
recognize, anticipate and respond to change. Sustainable development is thus seen not as a static present
state, but as an ever-changing system.
In 1996, the federal government defined sustainable development for minerals and metals in The M inerals
and Metals Policy of the Government of Canada
. This definition contains four elements that recognize
the economic, environmental and social dimensions of minerals and metals activities while respecting the
needs of resource users of the present and the future. In the Policy, “sustainable development in the
context of minerals and metals is considered as incorporating the following elem ents:

findin g, ex tracting, producing, addin g value to, using, re-using, recycling an d, w hen necessary,
disp osing of m ineral and metal products in th e most efficient, competitive and en viron mentally
responsible manner possible, utilizing best practices;

respecting the needs an d values of all resource users, an d considering those needs and values in
government decision-making;

maintaining or enhancing the quality of life and th e environment for present an d future
generations; and

securing the involvement and participation of stakeh olders, ind ividu als and comm unities in
decision -making.”
As our understanding and implementation of sustainable development has evolved, it has become evident
that more effort has been placed on the economic and environmental dimensions than on the social
dimensions. This is in part due to the difficulties inherent in conceptualizing the application and
measurement of the so cial dimension to su stainable development.

The importance of the social dimension of sustainable development has long been recognized. The
United Nations Conference on Environmen t and Development, which met in Rio de Janeiro from June 3
to 14, 1992, resulted in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (the Rio Declaration). The
first prin ciple of the Rio Declaration is that “H um an b eings are at th e cen tre of concerns for sustainab le
developm ent. Th ey are entitled to a h ealthy and productive life in h armony with nature.”
The mining industry has an interest in sustainable development, including its social aspects. For example,
the industry can contribute to continuous learning leading to innovation, to improving the health of
people and the environment, and to developing vigorous diverse communities. The industry has the
potential to enhance its social contribution and its influence on the Canadian social fabric, which can
result in the industry receiving a social licence to operate from com mun ities and regions.
Sustainable development has given rise to various vision s of the world of the future, of p ossible tradeoffs
and of externalities. The so cial fab ric is changing and evolving w ith an increased emphasis on both
commu nities and individuals. Through volunteerism and involvement, people are becoming more active
in creating healthy, sustainable com mu nities at the neighbou rhood, mu nicip al and regional levels w ithin
both geograph ical comm unities and comm unities of interest. T his greater activity in commu nities and in
the social fabric leads to an interest in examining the social impact of developments.
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has prepared this discussion paper in an effort to expand the
understand ing of the m ining ind ustry’s con tribution to and imp acts on the social aspects of sustainab le
development in Canad a. The p aper deals with the d omestic aspects of the social dim ension of sustainab le
development and the mining industry. Although the important opportunities of social enhancement on
the in ternational stage for the min ing in dustry are recognized, they are not directly dealt w ith in this
paper. Furthermore, the paper concentrates on the national scale, recognizing that provinces and
territories regu late the mining ind ustry, but that the imp act of th e activities of the minerals and metals
industries can be felt at the n ational level.
The goal of the paper is to promote discussion of social issues related to mining developments by
industry, government officials and stakeholders, leading to the development of policy instruments that
will ensure the social d imension is well integrated into the sustainable development of minin g projects. It
is hoped that the paper w ill also serve to inform p ublic con stituen cies of the p otential of m ining to create
social value.
The paper is divided into several sections that highlight different aspects of mining and the social
dim ension of sustainab le develop ment. The h istory of th e social imp act of m ining in C anada is u sed to
present the background of the discussion in the first part. The concepts related to the social dimension of
sustainable developm ent as it app lies to minerals and metals developmen t are discussed in the secon d part
of this report. The third part of the paper deals with the risks and opportunities related to the social
dimension of sustainable developmen t faced by industry and governm ents.

2. Historical Background
The history of mining in Canada can be divided into four main phases. At first comes Aboriginal mining
prior to European settlem ent. Th en, from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, mineral resources were
exploited in a harvest and move pattern which was, at the time, the mode of exploitation of all natural
resources. This phase was slowly replaced by one in which the mineral resources were seen by
governments as a tool for ensuring economic development; this phase can be seen as extending from the
mid -1900s to the late 19 60s. Th en, in the late 1960s and early 19 70s, environ mental concerns began to
chan ge the m ining scene. W e may now b e in a fifth phase w here natural resou rces, including minin g, are
being considered in the context of their contribution to sustainable development and the Can adian social
In this con text, the follow ing discussion will attemp t to highligh t the main imp acts of the m ining industry
on the social fabric of Canada du ring each of the first four phases. The present phase will be considered
in later sections of this pap er.
The first mines in what was to become Canada were dug and exploited by Aboriginals. Copper was dug
by Aboriginals in the Lake Superior area for over 500 0 years un til about 1000 A.D . (Udd, 20 00).
Maritime Archaic Indians are known to have mined chert beds in Labrador for the material used to make
implements beginning about 4000 years ago. Aboriginal mining is also known from the Cobalt area of
Ontario. Aboriginals extracted silver from this area from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D.
Th e actu al extent of Aboriginal mining is not know n an d m ay nev er be accu rately kn own. Y et, trade in
copp er and silver and the use of chert im plements were exten sive in N orth A merica for over 50 00 years
before European settlement. Mining and the use of some minerals and metals were a part of Aboriginal
Explorers, such as the Vikings and early settlers, are known to have developed and exploited mines. The
early explorers of the landmass were looking for deposits, especially gold. Knowledge of deposits and of
the possibility of exploiting them were important for the administrators of the colony that became
Can ada.
The next phase of mining in Canada, from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, was characterized by what
can be d escrib ed as a harvest and move ap proach. This phase, from a governm ent p erspective, was due to
the need to demonstrate sovereignty over the landmass, to acquire more knowledge of the landmass and
resources, and to build a nation. For the mining industry, this phase represents the best use of existing
technology to exploit the resources and make a profit. Both governmental and industry goals were similar
in th e need to fin d and exploit resources to en sure a futu re for the cou ntry.

In September 1841, the Legislature of the Province of Canada passed a resolution to conduct a geological
survey of the province. This resolution gave birth to the Geological and Natural History Survey of
Canada in 1842. The decision to undertake a geological survey of the country was based on the
realization th at the development of an industrial eco nom y in Canada w ould dep end to a consid erable
extent on a viable mining industry. There was a need to do a geological assessment of the landmass and
to determine the presen ce of viable resources.
According to the h arvest and move ap proach, resou rces w ere developed as qu ickly as p ossible up on th eir
initial discovery and harvested until they were exhausted. This applied to all natural resources, but the
following discussion is limited to mining. Once the mineral resources of an area were exhausted,
developers an d workers moved on to new min eral deposits. M any of the settlements established to
accom mod ate and serve the w orkers eventually closed dow n after the m ineral was exh austed and were
The most extreme examples of this harvest and move phase were the Cariboo gold rush (1860s) and the
Klondike gold rush (1896-98). The Cariboo gold rush brought thousands of people to the western coastal
region of C anada while, in th e case of the Klondike gold ru sh, thousands headed north to the Yukon. In
both cases, num erous settlements were established to accom modate the gold seekers. Man y of these
settlements were abandoned shortly after their establishment as the supply of gold disappeared and
prospectors extend ed their search into other areas.
Despite the large number of ghost towns that it created, the harvest and move phase of mining in Canada
left important b enefits to the econom y and social fabric of the nation. M ajor d evelopm ents occu rred with
respect to the exp loration an d settlement of rem ote areas: wealth was created, know ledge of the cou ntry
was extended, transportation infrastructure was developed, the role of government was expanded , new
technology was developed, and sovereignty was established. The mining industry, through the creation
of settlements, helped forge the nation.
Exploration and Settlement
The search for mineral resources led to the exploration and mapping of remote areas of the country. The
discovery of mineral resou rces in turn led to the d evelopm ent of com mu nities and a flow of population to
parts of Queb ec, Labrador, O ntario, Manitoba, British Colum bia, the Yukon and the Northw est
Wh ile a series of communities prospered and then dw indled or disappeared completely due to mineral
exploitation or the gold ru shes, several perm anent com mu nities (such as Nelson, F lin-F lon, Su dbury,
Thetford Mines) also developed. All of these commu nities, those that persisted and those that
disappeared, played a significant role in the gradual extension of the frontier and in the settlement of the
country, as well as in the economic and social development of Canada.
The Cariboo gold rush was instrumental in the settlemen t of mainland B ritish Columbia and the w estward
exp ansion of settlem ent, w hile th e Klond ike gold rush served to expan d the northern frontier. B oth gold
rushes resulted in the establishment of commu nities, many of which were abandoned, but others achieved
perm anen ce.

The C ariboo gold rush, and other mining exploration and developmen t, resulted in the opening up of
regions th at were su bsequently discovered to be of agricultural, forestry or ranching value. T his in turn
stimulated the perman ent settlement of areas and a diversification of local econ omies.
An other imp ortant result of both gold rushes and min eral ex ploration has b een the increased geograph ic
knowledge of the country’s land base. Significant parts of the country were mapped as a result of the
gold rushes or of mineral exploration. This provided the foundation for subsequent settlement, the
development of transportation corridors, and greater access to other natural resources including
agricultural lands, forests and fossil fuels. It also led to the establishment of government control over
lands and resources.
Tran spo rtation In frastruc ture
Mineral exploration and the construction of transportation infrastructure are closely related. Some
mineral deposits were discovered during the construction of the transcontinental railroads while, in other
cases, mineral discoveries led to the construction of further railroad routes. In both cases, mineral
discoveries and the construction of railroads led to the establishment of sovereignty and of governmental
control over large areas.
The period between 1880 and 1920 was the golden age of railroad construction in Canada. The
development of th e three transcon tinen tal rail lines – th e Pacific R ailway (1885), the G rand Tru nk P acific
Railway Company (1914) and the Canadian Northern Railway (1915) – is closely tied to the expansion of
the mining industry. The C anad ian Pacific and Gran d Trunk Pacific railways were m otivated in large part
by the mining activity in Ontario and British Columbia, while the Canadian Northern Railway was an
important prerequisite to mineral development in the northern prairies and the Northwest Territories. The
building of the railway was a national policy and a con dition for the entry of British C olum bia in to
Confederation. Once in place, these rail lines had a profound impact on the movement of goods and
people, settlement, and industrial expansion.
The developm ent of can als for the transportation of good s was also stimulated by the m ining industry.
For examp le, the first lock of The G reat Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System w as bu ilt in Sault S te. M arie
in 1855 in response to the discovery of iron and copper ores around Lake S uperior. T he W elland C anal,
connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, underwent several improvements between 184 5 and 193 2 that
were due in part to the mining industry and were of subsequent importance to the development of the
Canadian steel in dustry.
The gold rushes and mineral exploration also led to the construction of roads. In 1862, the Government
of British Columb ia commissioned the construction of the Cariboo Road, which was completed three
years later and led to the construction of shorter roads to communities. The construction of these roads
contributed to the development of a comprehensive transportation system in the province. The use of
these road s for the delivery of goods, services an d security assisted perm anent settlement.
Related Development
Th e estab lishm ent of min es, the existence of transp ortation netwo rks, an d government policy resu lted in
the development of processing facilities within Canada. In some cases, government policy played an
important role. The nickel industry, for example, was legislated into building a refinery in Ontario. In