Climate change and mining in Canada

2011 January 1

Pearce, T., Ford, J. et al. (2011). Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change:16 (3), 347-368. Find PDF.

Climate is an important component of the operating environment for the Canadian mining sector. However, in recent years mines across Canada have been affected by significant climatic hazards, several which are regarded to be symptomatic of climate change. For the mining sector, climate change is a pressing environmental threat and a significant business risk. The extent to which the mining sector is able to mitigate its own impact and adapt to climate change will affect its long-term success and prosperity, and have profound economic consequences for host communities. This paper draws upon case studies conducted with mining operations in Canada involving in-depth interviews with mining professionals and analysis of secondary sources to characterize the vulnerability of the Canadian mining industry to climate change. Five key findings are discussed: i) mines in the case studies are affected by climate events that are indicative of climate change, with examples of negative impacts over the past decade; ii) most mine infrastructure has been designed assuming that the climate is not changing; iii) most industry stakeholders interviewed view climate change as a minor concern; iv) limited adaption planning for future climate change is underway; v) significant vulnerabilities exist in the post-operational phase of mines. This paper argues for greater collaboration among mining companies, regulators, scientists and other industry stakeholders to develop practical adaptation strategies that can be integrated into existing and new mine operations, including in the post-operational phase.


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