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MAC statement on the Supreme Court of Canada’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Impact Assessment Act (IAA)

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) will be working with its members to carefully analyze the opinion published today by the Supreme Court of Canada that core aspects of the IAA and regulations as they relate to “designated projects” are unconstitutional.

OTTAWA, October 13th, 2023 – The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) will be working with its members to carefully analyze the opinion published today by the Supreme Court of Canada that core aspects of the IAA and regulations as they relate to “designated projects” are unconstitutional. MAC’s objective is to develop constructive advice once the analysis has been completed. MAC has worked with consecutive governments and officials on federal major project permitting legislation and regulations since 1993 and will continue to work towards achieving an effective framework going forward.

The mining sector is heavily impacted by federal assessment legislation. There are some 20 mining projects currently undergoing federal assessment, and additional projects about to enter the assessment process. Legislative change introduces regulatory uncertainty. The transition to another legislative framework will have to be well-planned to mitigate the potential impact of uncertainty on Canada’s investment climate.

We call on the Government of Canada and Parliament to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada opinion expeditiously to shorten the period of investment uncertainty. Prolonged uncertainty is a roadblock to building the mines and infrastructure we urgently need to achieve our climate change, supply chain security and critical minerals goals.

Mining projects are already subject to comprehensive provincial regulatory frameworks that are unique to each province, including environmental assessment processes, environmental protection regulations, permits of general application and regulations, and permits specific to mining.

Mining projects are also subject to several federal requirements. The federal government does not have jurisdiction over mining on provincial crown land and does not have a dedicated regulator for mines. However, most new mining projects and major expansions have been subject to the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and predecessor legislation. As well, the abundance of water in most parts of Canada means that a mining project may also require an authorization under the Fisheries Act habitat provisions, an approval or Governor in Council Order under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA), and, in some cases, an amendment to Schedule 2 of the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER). All mines must also comply with relevant general federal legislation such as the Explosives Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Uranium mines are subject to the same provincial and federal requirements as other mines and are further regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, adding yet another source of
federal and provincial regulatory overlap.

MAC encourages the federal government and Parliament to take this extensive regulatory oversight into account as it considers its response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s opinion.

The mining industry is a major sector of Canada’s economy, contributing $125 billion to the national GDP and is responsible for 22 percent of Canada’s total domestic exports. Canada’s mining sector employs 665,000 people directly and indirectly across the country. The industry is proportionally the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples in Canada and a major customer of Indigenous-owned businesses.

About MAC
The Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry. Its members account for most of Canada’s production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication. Please visit www.mining.ca.

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For more information, please contact:
Paul Hébert
Mining Association of Canada
Phone: 613.292.2876
Email: phebert@mining.ca

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