Our vision is of a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable, and prosperous mining industry, underpinned by political and community consensus.
The Whitehorse Mining Initiative Leadership Council Accord forges a key to the future of the Canadian mining industry. It is a summons to change, framed within the context of a commitment to social and environmental goals. What we seek is a sustainable mining industry within the framework of an evolving and sustainable Canadian society.
The specific challenges facing mining in Canada are complex. Some are outside Canada's control. We cannot escape the reality of the nature of global competition. Numerous mineral-rich countries have liberalized their economic and political systems to attract investment. Many of the challenges, however, do come under our control and can be addressed through the cooperation of different sectors within Canada.
Against this background, the mining industry concluded that it needed support, assistance and advice within a non-adversarial framework to help it develop a new strategic vision and to create solutions for the 21st century.
The Mining Association of Canada, on behalf of the mining industry, took a suggestion for a multi-stakeholder process to the mines ministers of all senior governments at their annual conference in Whitehorse in September 1992. The ministers agreed to become co-sponsors and trustees of the process and named it the Whitehorse Mining Initiative. Representatives of five sectors of society agreed to participate. They were the mining industry, senior governments, labour unions, Aboriginal peoples, and the environmental community.
Full-scale discussions began in February 1993 and, eighteen months later, culminated in this Accord.
The Accord adopts a strategic vision for a healthy mining industry in the context of maintaining healthy and diverse ecosystems in Canada, and for sharing opportunities with Aboriginal peoples. It calls for improving the investment climate for investors; streamlining and harmonizing regulatory and tax regimes; ensuring the participation of Aboriginal peoples in all aspects of mining; adopting sound environmental practices; establishing an ecologically based system of protected areas; providing workers with healthy and safe environments and a continued high standard of living; recognition and respect for Aboriginal treaty rights; settling Aboriginal land claims; guaranteeing stakeholder participation where the public interest is affected; and creating a climate for innovative and effective responses to change.
Four Issue Groups were established, each with a membership drawn from all stakeholders. Members participated as informed individuals and often as representatives of their constituencies. The Issue Groups were named according to the subject they addressed: Finance/Taxation, Environment, Land Access, and Workforce/Workplace/Community. Each produced a set of principles and objectives, and an extended list of more than 150 very specific recommendations.
The reports, including the Issue Group recommendations, will provide a rich source of inspiration and counsel when stakeholders undertake implementation, individually or cooperatively. Although the reports stand as the work of individuals who could not always speak for the breadth and scope of their constituencies, they are an expression of expert and experienced opinion. As such they constitute important products of the WMI as a whole, and should continue to be referenced by stakeholders and addressed in follow-up processes resulting from this Accord.
The current implementation of the Accord's principles and goals, at both the national and regional levels, represents phase II of the WMI process.
On November 23, 1995, a participants meeting was held to enable the WMI stakeholders to discuss the status of implementation of these principles and goals in each of their areas of responsibility. The present progress report (January 1996/Issue 2) (archived) provides meeting participants and other interested parties with a summary of the results of the November 23 discussions.
The Government of Canada together with the governments of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon have developed Terms of Reference for the Mineral and Energy Resource Assessment (MERA) process for proposed national parks in northern Canada. The MERA process, as described in these Terms of Reference, reflects the spirit and intent of the WMI Leadership Council Accord. In northern Canada, the MERA process will contribute to the achievement of the WMI goals for Protected Areas.