British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposia

B. C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy : an update on sustainable development and reclamation Hansen, Poul 1991

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Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Final April 24, 1991  B.C. ROUND TABLE ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE ECONOMY AN UPDATE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND RECLAMATION Poul Hansen, President Highland Valley Copper Tel:  (604) 688-2211 Ste. 3000/ 700 W. Georgia Street    Fax:  (604) 688-0646 P.O. Box 10024, Pacific Centre  Vancouver, B.C. V7Y 1A1 B.C.'s Fifteenth Annual Reclamation Symposium June 24 - 28, 1991 Kamloops, British Columbia 146 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation ABSTRACT B.C. ROUND TABLE ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE ECONOMY AN UPDATE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND RECLAMATION by POUL HANSEN  PRESIDENT, HIGHLAND VALLEY COPPER Following the first round of public consultations, the B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is in the process of developing a draft strategy on sustainable development. The public consultations have taken the thirty-one members of the Round Table to all parts of British Columbia and many submissions have been received.  Measured against the principles of sustainable development established earlier by the Round Table, sectorial strategies will be drafted after consultation with the industries concerned and other stakeholders. In the fall of 1991, this draft will be widely distributed for public input and another round of public consultations will be undertaken.  It is expected that the Round Table's recommendations for a strategy for sustainable development will be submitted to the Government of British Columbia in the spring of 1992. The Round Table is an advisory body, not another level of government.  It cannot make laws or change them.  It reports to the government through the Ministers of Environment and of Regional and Economic Development and through them, to Cabinet. The mining industry has been an active participant in the workshops and public consultations.  Its primary concerns have been to maintain access to exploration and opportunities to develop the rare occurrences of mineral deposits which can be economically extracted. New mining projects must submit to a rigorous development permit process, with public input, and which includes assurances of adequate eventual reclamation after the temporary use of the land. The mining industry is required to undertake - and has pioneered -intensive reclamation of disturbed lands, re-establishing the level of land productivity not less than what existed prior to mining on an average property basis. 147 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Commission sur 1’environnement et 1’économie en C.-B. Mise à jour sur le développement soutenable et la réhabilitation par P. Hansen, président, Highland Valley Copper Après la première ronde de consultations publiques, la commis-sion de la Colombie-Britannique sur l'environnement et l'économie a entamé le processus de développement d'une ébauche de stratégie sur le développement soutenable. Ces consultations publiques ont transporté les trente et un membres de la commission dans toutes les régions de la Colombie-Britannique et plusieurs soumissions ont été reçues. Reflétant les principes de développement soutenable, précédemment établis par la commission, des stratégies sectorielles seront développées, en consultation avec les industries impliquées et autres parties. A l'automne 1991, cette ébauche sera largement distribuée pour recevoir les suggestions du public et une deuxième ronde de consultations publiques aura lieu. Les recommandations de la commission, portant sur une stratégie de développement soutenable, seront ensuite présentées au gouvernement de la Colombie-Britannique au printemps de 1992. Cette commission se veut un organisme consultatif et non un autre palier de gouvernement. Elle ne peut légiférer, ni modifier les lois. Elle se rapporte au gouvernement, par le biais des ministres de 1'environnement et du développement économique et régional et au cabinet. L'industrie minière a participé activement aux ateliers ainsi qu'à la consultation publique. Son but premier était de maintenir 1'accès à 1'exploration et aux opportunités de développer les rares dépôts de minerai qu'il est encore possible d'extraire de façon rentable. Les nouveaux projets d'exploitation minière doivent être soumis à un processus rigoureux, pour l'obtention de permis de développe-ment, et ce, en tenant compte des suggestions du public et en fournissant l'assurance d'une réhabilitation éventuelle adéquate du site, à la fin des travaux d'exploitation. L'industrie minière doit entreprendre, à titre de pionnière, la réhabilitation intensive des sites perturbés, pour ramener les sites a un état de productivité égalant au moins le niveau de productivité originale, avant le début des travaux d'exploitation. 148 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Introduction Thank you.  I am pleased to be given this opportunity to talk to you about the work of the British Columbia Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.  Today I'm going to talk about sustainable development and the public consultation process that has already taken place and which will continue. Before I do that however, I'd like to tell you a little bit about the Round Table itself and why it was established. The process began twenty years ago with the World Environment Conference sponsored by the United Nations and held in Stockholm. Since then, the United Nations has put increasing emphasis on the topic.  This interest culminated in the formation of the UN Commission on Environment and Development.  This body mounted a series of investigations into global economic and environmental events, and the linkages between them.  The commission was chaired by the Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Canada was a major player in these initiatives. The report of this commission was published in book form in 1987. It is called Our Common Future and is usually referred to as "the Bruntland Report". The report was one of the first major documents to emphasize that economic growth must be redefined in the context of stability in social, cultural, and natural systems.  The Brundtland Commission defined this state as "sustainable development". Canada responded to the Brundtland Commission's findings by establishing a national task force to begin the process of identifying federal strategies for sustainable development and three years ago, a National Round Table was put into place.  In 1988, British Columbia set up its own task force to begin the same process on a provincial basis.  The B.C. task force was headed by Dr. David Strangway, president of UBC.  Groups and individuals representing a broad spectrum of British Columbians prepared more than 200 briefs and submitted them to the Task Force. The final report of the Commission was entitled Sustaining the Living Land and one of its recommendations was the formation of a round table of concerned citizens who could begin to address the challenge of identifying a sustainable development strategy for British Columbia.  In January 1990, the provincial government established the B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. B.C. Round Table The Round Table is an independent advisory group of 31 men and women representing different parts of society including environmental groups, industry, labour, native groups, academia, and public servants. 149 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation The mandate of the Round Table is to develop a sustainable development strategy for B.C.  It is also to recommend a means and alternative methods of resolving land-use and other conflicts between the environment and the economy.  The Round Table has been directed to heighten the public's understanding and knowledge of sustainable development, and it is charged with promoting the interdependence of the economy and the environment. It must be clear that the Round Table is an advisory body. The Round Table is not another level of government.  It cannot make laws or change them.  It reports to the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Regional and Economic Development, co-chairs of the Sustainable Development Committee of Cabinet, and through them directly to Cabinet.  The Round Table is not charged with adjudicating site specific issues, but rather to provide government with a strategy that will lead to a sustainable future. The questions you might now be asking are what is sustainable development and why are we so concerned about it? Why has the Round Table been asked to develop a sustainable development strategy? Simply put sustainable development is a harmony between the environment and economic activity.  It means that today's utilization of resources and today's effects upon the environment should not compromise opportunities for future generations.  It is the recognition that the environment and the economy are inextricably linked - protecting the environment and fostering the economy go hand in hand, they cannot be treated separately. At a global level people are concerned that the planet as we know it is at risk because our cumulative economic-development decisions have had grave consequences to the environment.  Issues like global warming, ozone depletion, and acid rain are manifestations of these concerns.  The causes of these problems lead directly back to the way that we have made our economic-development decisions. There is a concern that we are not looking at the environmental consequences of our decisions.  And we need to be doing this globally, nationally, provincially, and locally.  We believe that in British Columbia we still have the opportunity to avoid many of the mistakes others have made and enhance our accountability as stewards, The Round Table produced a document called A Better Way that briefly explored the issues of the environment, society, and the economy, and raised a number of questions the Round Table felt had to be answered in order to develop a sustainable development strategy. A Better Way attempted to describe what sustainable development is. After much discussion the Round Table found that the best way to define sustainable development was to look at a series of principles. 150 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation As a result the Round Table established six guiding principles of sustainable development and these were stated in A Better Way: 1. Limiting our impact on the living world to stay within its carrying capacity.  This means we must identify ecological limits and respect them when making development decisions. 2. Preserving and protecting the environment. This principle has three requirements:  maintaining essential life-support services that sustain the productivity and capacity for renewal of land, water, and life on Earth; conserving biological diversity; and ensuring that our use of renewable resources is sustainable. 3. Holding to a minimum the depletion of non-renewable resources. This principle is speaking to the idea of more efficient use of resources and recycling where possible.  It suggests the concept of prudent use such that we aren't depriving future generations of opportunities. 4. Promoting long-term economic development that increases the benefits from a given stock of resources without drawing down on our stocks of environmental assets.  Lest there be any doubt in people's minds, protecting and preserving the environment does not mean forsaking economic development.  Madame Brundtland concluded in fact, that economic development on a world scale of some 3 per cent per annum was necessary to accommodate forecasted population increases and to cure poverty.  In B.C. the question is to ensure long-term sustainable economic development - economic development that won't deplete our stock of natural resources and environmental assets. 5. Aiming for fair distribution of the benefits and the costs of resource use and environmental protection. The benefits and costs of resource use and environmental protection have not always been shared equally among different communities and interest groups or between regions that are poor or affluent. How do we ensure full accounting for the total costs including environmental costs when we make economic decisions? And finally 6. Promoting values that support sustainability.  To be successful, sustainable development must rest upon social values that hold sustainability to be morally good.  If we don't believe in it, it won't happen. These principles are not fixed in stone but are to be reference points in the discussion process.  They are a new way of testing our decisions and whether or not we are achieving sustainable development.  For example, each time we make a major decision, as a society, should we ask ourselves if that decision is consistent with these principles? 151 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation At the workshops we held in the summer and autumn of 1990, people continually told us that they wanted the Round Table to identify some specific issues in order to help them focus on the debate. Looking at these principles has allowed us to determine some main areas of concern in British Columbia with regards to sustainability.  To assist in the process of public consultation, the Round Table then produced a series of theme papers intended to stimulate discussion on certain key elements. Further, to assist us in developing the theme papers the Round Table commissioned a number of technical or background papers on specific issues such as waste management, municipal water supplies, and population forecasts and the B.C. economy. The Round Table mandate requires that there be public input into this process of developing a sustainable development strategy and the Round Table is committed to the concept of public participation.  Only by working together and reaching for consensus can a plan for sustainable development become a reality.  Only through extensive public consultation can we develop recommendations for change that the public will accept. Earlier this year we toured the province and went to about 30 communities to spark interest in the need for public participation. Then, from the end of April and through into June, members of the Round Table have travelled to about 24 communities throughout the province specifically to listen to the views of British Columbians about sustainable development. Mining & Exploration The mining industry, including the coal producers, have been active participants in the Round Table workshops and public consultations. The industry's primary concerns have been to maintain access to exploration and opportunities to develop those rare occurrences of mineral deposits that can be economically extracted. As you know, it is already law that new mining projects must submit to a rigorous development permit process, with public input, which includes assurances of eventual adequate reclamation after the temporary use of the land. The mining industry is required to undertake - and has pioneered -intensive reclamation of disturbed lands, re-establishing the level of land productivity to not less than what existed prior to mining on an average property basis. Our industry is subject to stringent regulations concerning the maintenance of quality standards for water and air emissions, we 152 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation must conform to strict rules on the handling and disposal of hazardous materials/ we reduce the consumption of supplies including energy, we reuse and recycle materials. As an industry, we recognize the need to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.  In fact and as you well know, a large portion of our metal needs is met from secondary, recycled materials, Speaking for Highland Valley Copper I can say that we carefully consider the environmental impact of every capital investment decision.  This is as much a part of the decision-making as is the economic return. The physical properties of metals make them ideal candidates for recycling.  Metals can be remelted and reused any number of times without adversely effecting their mechanical properties.  For this reason, metal recycling has been common practice since metals were first produced. The recycling of metals has significant benefits, including reduced need for virgin ores, reduced energy requirements and significantly less pollution of our air, water and land. In the Western world, more than 50% of the total lead consumption is supplied by recycled production - and in North America the number is closer to 60%. For copper the recycled share is almost 40%, with zinc and aluminum at about 25%.  In fact, 40% of aluminum beverage cans are recycled -at only 5% of the energy needed for virgin aluminum. It may interest you to know that according to the 1989 statistics prepared by the Ministry of Finance, the mining and primary metal industries accounted for 4.9% of the Gross Domestic Product of British Columbia.  This compares with the forest industry's 9.7%. In other words, the mining industry is about one-half the size of the forest industry - and our industry does not have the same relative impact on the environment. The same statistics show that five commodities alone - pulp, coal, copper, newsprint and lumber - accounted for approximately 65% of British Columbia's total international exports in 1989.  From an industry perspective, only two sectors - forestry and mining -accounted for over three quarters of British Columbia's foreign exports. In terms of direct and indirect employment, mining and primary metal industries account for 4.5% of B.C.'s workforce as compared with 15.4% for the forest industry (1984).  But total exports accounted 153 Proceedings of the 15th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1991. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation for direct and indirect employment of 32.5%. Where Does The Round Table Go From Here? As I said, the public consultations have taken the members of the Round Table to all parts of British Columbia and many submissions have been received. Measured against the principles of sustainable development sectorial strategies will now be drafted after consultation with the industries concerned and other stakeholders. The Round Table will be considering this great volume of opinion and material and start the process of developing a draft strategy on sustainable development. Once this draft strategy is prepared it will be circulated to the public, and there will be another round of public meetings to review what people think about the ideas and options that will have come out of the first go-around.  Thus we will be involving the public not once, but twice in consultation to ensure their support. Then, and only then, will the Round Table put together the final strategy document to be presented to the government of British Columbia.  We anticipate that the Round Table's recommendations on a provincial sustainable development strategy will be presented to the Cabinet in the first quarter of 1992. In the search for sustainable development the environment and the economy must be given equal importance, and in that challenge, with little experience to guide us, we are truly pioneering. I want to close by saying that we are all part of the creation of British Columbia's first integrated economic and environmental plan.  It is a massive undertaking.  But the process has to start somewhere and we can now say that it is launched. No doubt this presentation has raised questions about sustainable development and perhaps about the public consultation process.  If you have questions I will try to answer them for you. END 154 

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