Get with the times: old laws can’t keep up with Nova Scotia’s new gold rush

An increase in mine staking in the province needs to be met with a rigorous environmental assessment process — not the tight timelines, loopholes and lax consultation requirements of the past.

Read the full article by Alana Westwood on The Narwhal.

Nova Scotia has had three gold rushes since colonization: one in the 1800s, one at the beginning of the 1900s and, most recently, in 1942. Eighty years later, the gold market is sitting near an all-time high — but this time, things are different: we’ve moved from miners with pickaxes to open pits deeper than high-rises, their waste stored in open tailings ponds the size of multiple football fields.

Like many places since the COVID-19 pandemic, Nova Scotia has experienced sharp rises in land values putting pressure on not only would-be homeowners, but also farmers and woodlot owners. Yet, the cost for any individual or company to obtain a mineral exploration licence — staked claims to the minerals found in the ground — is just 61 cents per hectare. Visions of enormous profit combined with a low upfront prospector cost has resulted in an explosion of exploration. Most licences are intended for gold.

In 2013, our calculations show there were 158 mineral exploration licences covering approximately 1.5 per cent of Nova Scotia’s total subsurface. Ten years later that number had jumped to 2,124 licences, covering 18 per cent of the province’s land mass. Although most claims don’t turn into mines — they’re often an effort by companies to assure shareholder confidence — many will still enter into the provincial environmental assessment process with the hopes of being approved for mining. 

Read the rest of the article on The Narwhal.

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