“And that has advantages and disadvantages. By being less prescriptive, it’s more flexible and harder to advocate,” Laurie-Lean said. But “soft” rules can be difficult to navigate, she said. “You’re doing a bit, and no two are alike.”
Most Canadian provinces also have regulations in place that require mining operators to consult with indigenous tribal governments before exploring for mineral resources. Danielle Woodring, head of SAFE’s Center for Critical Minerals Strategy, said this can help ensure they have the “social license to operate”.
On Sept. 16, a coalition of tribes, native organizations, and environmental groups called on the administration to pass regulatory reforms that include “meaningful tribal consultation and protection of native resources,” among other reforms, to make to the impact of these projects.
Recognizing that the United States will need to significantly expand critical mining in the coming years, the Biden administration in February convened representatives from tribes, the mining industry and elsewhere to consider how it can update the General Mining Act of 1872 to “ensure a meaningful community”. consultation and consultation with tribal nations.
However, even though these processes are outlined in Canadian law, Laurie-Lean said if companies operating in Canada only did what was legally required of them, they wouldn’t have a good relationship. The Mining Association of Canada requires its members to participate in a Sustainable Mining Program, which outlines additional protocols for community and Indigenous relations.