Telling neighbours when major work will be starting next door is common courtesy.
That is the rationale behind new guidelines released today, Nov. 13, to help prospectors and mineral exploration companies be good neighbours in the communities where they operate.
“It’s important that prospectors and exploration companies understand the values of the community in which they’re working, and that they work with the community to identify issues and to resolve them,” said Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill, who will speak at Geology Matters, an annual industry gathering in Halifax today.
The Sierra Club, the Ecology Action Centre, the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and the Department of Natural Resources developed the guidelines together.
“We are pleased to be part of developing a proactive policy to increase the ability of communities to know what is going on when it comes to mining exploration from the get-go,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, director of the Sierra Club’s Atlantic chapter.
“The mining and quarrying industry is committed to working in partnership with communities, and to operating in a safe, sustainable, responsible fashion,” said Sean Kirby, executive director, Mining Association of Nova Scotia. “The guidelines are a good example of the high standard the industry sets for public consultation.”
Activities can be classified as low, medium or high impact. For example, a prospector collecting rock samples for a few days could be considered a low-impact activity. Six workers doing limited core sample drilling for a few weeks could be a medium-impact activity. A large work crew clearing land for several months and building roads into a prospective mine site could be considered high-impact activity.
As the impact increases, so does the need to reach out to the community. A prospector should inform the local Natural Resources office what activities are planned, and discuss those activities when asking property owners for access to their land.
Higher impact activities call for greater interaction with communities, such as town hall meetings with residents, information sessions for municipal officials and meeting with stakeholder groups who may have special concerns about a project.
The consultation guidelines are available at http://novascotia.ca/natr.
Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq communities are also key to moving forward on an exploration project. They have their own consultation process that was developed with the province.