Critical minerals are essential to meet our climate goals and transition to a prosperous net-zero economy. Current geopolitical dynamics have contributed to stresses within critical minerals value chains, leaving many of Canada’s friends and allies looking for secure, reliable supplies of these resources and the clean technologies they enable. As countries around the world work to secure access to these resources, it is equally important that the path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero is built with a human rights–based approach, a commitment to sustainability and the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.
Yesterday, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, announced at COP15 that Canada, along with Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, are launching the Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance to drive the global uptake of environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive and responsible mining, processing and recycling practices and responsible critical minerals supply chains.
“The Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance is a historic step forward for Canada and our international partners in our collective efforts to secure the responsibly sourced critical minerals we need to power the clean energy transition. Together, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States will put human rights, sustainability and the highest environmental, social and governance standards at the heart of our critical mineral supply chains, helping to build the prosperous, low-carbon economy of the future. Today’s announcement builds on the recently released Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy — our plan to position Canada as the global supplier of choice for critical minerals and the clean technologies they enable.”The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources
The Alliance aligns with the G7 2030 Nature Compact commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 through a globally wide system change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) with a focus on sustainable and inclusive development.
Through the Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance, members will voluntarily work toward developing sustainable and inclusive mining practices and sourcing critical minerals that:
- Employ a Nature-Positive Approach by encouraging industry practices or collaborating with industry on practices that prevent biodiversity loss, protect species at risk, support nature protection and minimize pollution, including driving toward net-positive benefits to the natural environment;
- Support Local and Indigenous Communities by respecting the respective rights and interests of local and Indigenous communities through engagement; promoting safe working conditions and responsible labour standards, diverse and inclusive workforces, supporting safe living conditions; and including members of Indigenous and local communities in economic benefits from mining that affects their well-being;
- Help Fight Climate Change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working toward achieving net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, and promoting mining, processing and recycling processes that advance sustainability through ESG standards;
- Restore Ecosystems by adopting requirements for reclamation and remediation to close and return mine sites to their natural state where feasible and holding responsible parties accountable for environmental harm;
- Build a Circular Economy by promoting material stewardship, including byproducts and recovery from waste, keeping products in use longer as well as accelerating the reuse and recycling of critical minerals, which may reduce the number of new mines required to supply the minerals needed; and
- Foster Ethical Corporate Practices through sustainability reporting to investors and the public and by implementing due diligence in mineral supply chains as laid down in relevant internationally accepted guidelines.
Members of the Alliance welcome and encourage collaboration with Indigenous communities, non-governmental organizations, industry and other non-state actors, as well as actions taken domestically and globally to advance the objectives of the Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance and call on others to join. The International Mines Ministers Summit — taking place in Toronto on March 6, 2023, on the margins of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s Annual Convention — will provide an opportunity to dialogue on the commitment and continue further collaboration on sustainable critical minerals.
Last week, Minister Wilkinson also launched the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, which positions Canada as the global supplier of choice for the critical minerals and materials needed to transition to a net-zero economy. The Strategy maps out how Canada can seize this generational opportunity in a way that accomplishes five key outcomes:
- Supporting economic growth, competitiveness and job creation;
- Promoting climate action and environmental protection;
- Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples;
- Fostering diverse and inclusive workforces and communities; and
- Enhancing global security and partnership with allies.
“Critical minerals are the backbone of a net-zero future, and we are positioning Canada to be a trusted supplier for our allies and the world. We cannot abandon our principles in pursuit of a net-zero economy. The signing of the alliance sets a high bar among member states that mining activity meets the highest environmental, social and governance standards, including respecting the rights and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples.”The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
The Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance is one of the many significant measures the Government of Canada is taking to protect nature as it welcomes some 196 countries to Montreal for the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties — COP15 — to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, December 7–19, 2022. COP15 presents an opportunity for Canada to show its leadership in taking actions to conserve and restore nature and halt biodiversity loss around the world.
Natural Resources Canada
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources
Photo by Tom Fisk: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bird-s-eye-view-of-heavy-equipment-2101140/