Permits and licences are documents issued by regulators authorizing an activity or use of a site. The process of permitting and licensing a mine occurs upon completion of the project’s environmental assessment. From the environmental assessment, comes the Environmental Agreement. Land use permits, and water licences are just a few of the many required by a mine. By far a mine’s most significant federal licence is the water licence. It sets conditions and limits on how much water the mine can use and water quality limits a mine must achieve before returning water to the surrounding environment.
In the Northwest Territories, diamond mining companies and governments signed nation-leading impact benefit agreements, also known as participation agreements. The mining companies also formalized their commitments through socio-economic monitoring agreements with the Government of the Northwest Territories. Similarly, mines operating in Nunavut signed Inuit impact benefit agreements. These documents outline commitments to training, employment, and business benefits, community investment, and transparency. These agreements were leading edge as they created the most modern mechanisms to support community-based monitoring, participation, and co-management. They serve as a global standard for ensuring local communities achieve meaningful participation in mining.
Among the most modern of the agreements mines require is what is known as the social licence to operate. This licence refers to a mine’s level of acceptance or approval from local communities. In the North, this is extremely important as many communities are Indigenous and they look to resource development as a means to generate wealth to improve community wellness. In the North, modern agreements reflect an industry dedicated to local benefits.
The North’s modern, progressive mineral resources industry is making great strides with Indigenous reconciliation. In 2015, the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 Calls to Action for all Canadians to join in the goal of Indigenous reconciliation. Call to Action #92 asks the corporate sector to take steps that would see meaningful consultation and respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples and their land and resources, including equitable access to jobs and training with long-term sustainable benefits. Northern mines continue to demonstrate best efforts to achieve their commitments and each reports regularly on it results.