Canadian Mining Journal

Feature

“No work” is the least of our worries



Now that we’re heading into what forecasters say will be another dismal year, it’s hard to get excited about the months ahead knowing we’re going to continue hearing more about layoffs, care and maintenance, and worst of all, outright closures

After the past couple of years of what the industry has experienced, the words “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” the title of Horace McCoy’s 1935 novel, and later of a 1969 movie by the same name starring Jane Fonda, pretty much describes the ‘put me out of my misery’ feeling that many in the mining industry are feeling

But, like all doom-and-gloom stories, there’s usually something good to say and thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, that’s where the theme of this issue: “First Nations and the Canadian Mining Industry” comes in with a ‘positive’ message that’s encouraging for almost all miners

As both sides of the fence have known for years, the words “First Nations” and “Mining” haven’t necessarily homogenized to make for a creamy-smooth feeling towards the use of lands and the extraction of the minerals they contain

In fact, it’s safe to say that it’s been an oil-and-water relationship for centuries, but like I just said, things are looking a little more positive thanks to the recent emergence and understanding that there’s far more at stake than territorial lands and their contents

The Environment is something that almost everyone now agrees is far more important than quibbling over boundaries and minerals because, as witnessed at the recent World Climate Summit in Paris, France, where even the United States, Russia and China agreed on climate-change issues, Mother Nature has been beaten to her knees because of emissions from the industrialized world

And, admit it or not, the resources industry is partly to blame for the mess of the world

But to get back to my point of First Nations and Mining Industry relations, the recent federal election and the subsequent meeting of Prime Minister Trudeau with the Assembly of First Nations, was a decade-late meeting that at least showed that the federal government was about to listen to the “canaries of the coal mine,” as First Nations communities were described at a recent conference in Vancouver because, “they’re out there to warn.” Those phrases were used during one of the presentations at the Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association’s three-day conference where more than 500 delegates from across the country heard speakers from First Nations and mining companies alike, talk about a number of things, and in almost every case, The Environment was mentioned

It was a common thread throughout the Conference, and regardless of who was speaking, the message was clear; it’s time to clean up our act

And the “our” was collective, and not directed at any one group because as everyone in the room agreed, the issue at hand (The Environment) was far more important than territorial rights and mining privileges

As I quoted at the outset, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and unless everyone pulls together, and that certainly means First Nations and the Mining Industry, then the forecasters I mentioned earlier will be predicting dismal times far beyond the coming year.


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