New Water Stewardship Protocol to Bring Enhanced Environmental Standards to Canada’s Mining Sector

February 20, 2019

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) is introducing a new standard, the Water Stewardship Protocol, as part of its Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM) initiative. This Protocol will play an important role in the continuous improvement taking place in the mining industry regarding sustainable practices. 

Ensuring that mining operations take environmental impacts into consideration is a significant component of TSM, a MAC led program committed to sustainability in the mining sector. TSM has long included indicators focused on the environment through its Tailings ManagementEnergy and GHG Emissions Management and Biodiversity Conservation Management Protocols. The new Water Stewardship Protocol will further enhance TSMto ensure that it continues to drive environmental performance across a range of critical areas.  

TSM’s new Water Stewardship Protocol will help our sector focus its leadership in water conservation not just as it relates to how mines manage their water use but on how we can contribute to broader watershed-scale stewardship,” said Pierre Gratton, President and CEO for MAC. “We understand that given the finite nature of water as a resource, our industry has an important role to play in its stewardship, and this Protocol gives our members the tools to do just that.”

The new Protocol was heavily influenced by the International Council on Minerals and Metals’ (ICMM) Water Stewardship Framework and their Practical Guide to Catchment-Based Water Management which provide industry best practices on water management and place a strong focus on working with other water users on finding solutions to shared challenges.

“ICMM’s and MAC’s collaboration on water stewardship is setting the performance bar higher for our industry. By adopting a catchment-based approach and collaborating with other water users, our members are also playing their part in achieving the global development goal of sustainable water management. MAC’s new Water Stewardship Protocol will increase the number of mines that take this approach and help our industry address one of the biggest environmental challenges facing us all,” said Tom Butler, CEO of ICMM.

The development of the Water Stewardship Protocol came as a result of years of work and consultation by industry experts and stakeholder groups, including MAC’s Community of Interest Advisory Panel which played a key role in the Protocol’s creation by ensuring its commitments are aligned with societal expectation.

“Water is one of our planet’s most precious resources, and for sectors that both depend upon and have the potential to impact freshwater, it is essential that responsible stewardship be paramount,” said Alexis Morgan, Chair of the Alliance for Water Stewardship. “Access and use of freshwater cannot be taken for granted, and TSM‘s new Water Stewardship Protocol not only shows that the Canadian mining industry is committed to move towards international best practices in water stewardship, but also helps guide facilities to engage stakeholders on shared challenges in the watersheds upon which everyone mutually depends.”

The new Water Stewardship Protocol is based on MAC’s Water Stewardship Policy Framework and provides a tool for companies to measure implementation of the framework’s commitments. The Water Stewardship Protocol will be a valuable addition by providing indicators to ensure commitments and accountabilities are in place in support of water stewardship and plays an important role in TSM‘s continual progression.

“This Protocol strengthens the standards included in TSM as it is intended to guide the development of water stewardship practices beyond legal compliance,” concluded Gratton. “Its addition to TSM will continue to strengthen the work our industry is doing when it comes to the environment, something that will continue to be an area of focus in the years ahead.”

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