Mining Association of Canada | 2023 Report

The Mining Association of Canada | The Canadian Mining Story: Economic Impacts and Drivers for the Global Energy Transition 2023 54 Experience with the Act in its early years fell short of expectations. In the first few Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines, information requirements were not focused on key issues and effects nor the unique nature of a project and its location. The depth of studies requested was not scaled to the size of the project or its potential effects. Indigenous Engagement and Participation Plans were not focused on groups directly impacted by a project and did not clearly explain the expected depth of engagement with each of the groups scoped in. As well, the scoping of Indigenous groups by the Impact Assessment Agency did not align with scoping by provincial governments. However, the most recently published draft Tailored Impact Statement Guidelines and Indigenous Engagement and Participation Plan show improvement in tailoring, scoping and clarity. Further improvement is expected as the Agency gains experience with administering the IAA. Doing so is important, as inadequate tailoring of guidelines and unclear and undifferentiated broad Indigenous scoping mean more time needed by a proponent to complete an Impact Statement and more time before a project can proceed. An overly long Impact Statement does not enhance decision-making or Indigenous engagement, and hampers focus on important issues within federal jurisdiction. In addition to improved implementation of the Act, preparatory investment by the government in Indigenous capacity building, Traditional Land Use studies, and baseline studies in regions likely to see projects in the short to medium term would be very helpful. Capacity building and studies take a long time. Beginning them after a project has already entered the IAA process is likely to extend the overall timeline. Even if a project subject to the IAA does not materialize, the information and enhanced capacity can be useful to Indigenous groups in engaging with non-IAA-designated development. The Agency should continue measures that the Agency can take to improve the timeliness of the assessment process and to distill the information required for the assessment of key issues and effects: • Continue work on coordination with assessments by other jurisdictions. Misalignment and duplication between federal and provincial project assessment processes wastes time and resources. • Continue to implement regulatory integration within the federal government. By doing information gathering and Indigenous engagement once and well to satisfy the needs for major federal approvals will improve timelines and reduce the burden imposed on the proponent and on Indigenous communities. • Identify and do not assess what is already regulated. In examining a project’s potential effects and their geographic extent, the Agency should take into account provincial and federal legal requirements. • Build up internal expertise. Appropriate tailoring can only happen with knowledge of a project type and local circumstances. Impact assessment bodies should build capacity on mining projects, which would help to identify which issues and effects are important, and which are irrelevant.