We are working to improve decision-making processes regarding mines and quarries to ensure adequate community engagement, improved environmental assessment, stronger regulations and monitoring, and creation of a long-term development plan for the mine and quarry industry.
Please read our report: On Solid Ground: Community Voices for Changing Nova Scotia's Mining Policies.
On October 22, 2007, the Joint Review Panel for the Whites Point Quarry and Marine Terminal Project completed its assessment of a proposed coastal export quarry located on Digby Neck, NS. After reviewing hundreds of submissions, expert recommendations, and receiving advice from federal and provincial regulators, the joint panel recommended the rejection of the Whites Point Quarry. The panel also recommended that the Nova Scotia government take steps to improve community consultation, instigate a coastal management policy, and establish a moratorium on quarries on the North Mountain.
One month after the release of the panel’s final report, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment and Labour, Mark Parent, announced the rejection of the Whites Point Quarry project, a move that was seconded by his federal counterparts in the assessment, the Department Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada.
The findings of the Whites Point Quarry panel validated the concerns held by community and environmental groups regarding mine and quarry projects.
Some key recommendations to improve minerals policy in our region include:
Values and priorities for mineral policy:
1. Mineral stewardship
We value minerals too much to just dig them up and ship them off. In our vision, minerals are valued throughout their life cycle: every effort is made to maximize this value through conservation, reuse, recycling, and adding value wherever possible, while minimizing the release of waste to the environment. In mining as little as 0.02 % of the rock may be valuable—the remainder is waste. Once crushed, the waste rock exposes toxins to the air and water that can contaminate waterways, air, and soil for miles around. Also, because mining is energy intensive, it produces greenhouse gases and contributes to the climate crisis. Prudent mineral policy will seek alternatives to mining, not its expansion.
2. Commitment to land use planning
The ad hoc, case-by-case approach to mining proposals is onerous and expensive for all concerned. We value comprehensive watershed and coastal area land-use planning to determine where mining might be suitable given other land use values, and where it is off limits. We value a mineral policy that recognizes that a commercially viable deposit does not necessarily make a mine the best use of the land. Governments can demonstrate leadership by promoting comprehensive land use planning, as recommended by the Joint Review Panel for the Whites Point Quarry.
3. Respect for communities
We value local communities and their right to choose their own development path. All proposed mines and quarries must be subject to environmental assessments with full public review. Government earns the trust of the public by ensuring that the proposal is accepted only if it will produce a durable economic, environmental, and social net benefit to the local community and only if it is consistent with community values.
4. Legislated bans on uranium mining
We value Nova Scotia’s legislated ban on uranium exploration and mining, in place since 2009. Other provinces should follow Nova Scotia's lead, as the risks to miners, to communities, and to the environment form uranium mining are unacceptable. The uranium decay products in tailings piles remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years, in human terms, forever. Despite improvements in mining technology we cannot ensure that our air, water, soil, and food can be protected from these toxic materials once they are dug up. Also, nuclear power will not solve the climate crisis: investing in conservation and renewable energy provides jobs and business development without the risks, expense, and greenhouse gases associated with uranium mining and processing and the construction and decommissioning of nuclear power plants.