Québec City, August 18, 2022 – The Québec Mining Association (QMA) would like to rectify some recent media comments concerning depollution attestations, now known as ministerial authorizations to operate an industrial establishment. First, a ministerial authorization establishes the environmental conditions governing the operation of an industrial establishment, in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable and the requirements of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) in the field of environmental protection. This does not mean that it establishes a right to pollute, or constitutes a regulatory shortcut. The objective of these ministerial authorizations is to gradually strengthen the environmental requirements for the operation of industrial establishments, in particular as regards emissions of contaminants.
For the mining sector, it is important to note that operations, facilities and processes vary from one mine to another. A ministerial authorization groups together, in a single document, all the legal obligations and environmental standards that must be met by a given industrial establishment. Ministerial authorizations also include a series of extra requirements in the form of operating conditions that relate to discharges into bodies of water, atmospheric emissions, waste and host environments. In addition, the MELCC may require the commissioning of studies that are specific to the establishment in order to characterize, assess and study the potential for reducing emissions. Last, mining companies must file an annual report with the MELCC listing the results obtained for each environmental requirement in their ministerial authorization, including data on regulatory monitoring, compliance with the conditions for operation, and the progress made on the studies requested.
It is untrue to claim that ministerial authorizations systemically create a legal right to pollute.
It is important to remember that Québec’s mining industry operates under a strict legislative and regulatory framework at both the provincial and federal levels. In addition, it is constantly striving to improve its environmental and social approach. Several key initiatives have been implemented to contribute to the collective effort to improve the environmental record, in particular by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preserving biodiversity, regenerating wastewater, restoring former tailings sites and mine sites, etc. Québec’s mining industry spares no effort to protect its workers, the general public and the environment.
In addition to their own work to improve their environmental footprint, QMA members must also join the ongoing improvement initiative Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM). This sustainable development program, which has gained worldwide recognition, helps mining companies manage the main environmental and social risks by applying best practices that go well beyond the legislative and regulatory requirements. It includes several protocols based on indicators to promote a transparent and effective dialogue with communities of interest and ensure that the main risks associated with mining are managed in a responsible way.
About the Québec Mining Association
The Québec Mining Association (QMA) was founded in 1936 and speaks proactively for mining companies involved in exploration, extraction and processing, mining contractors and junior mining companies, along with suppliers, institutions, non-profit organizations and other mining sector partners. It is proud of the 48,187 jobs and total expenditure of $11.7 billion generated by Québec’s mining industry in 2020. The QMA’s mission is to promote, support and proactively develop a responsible, committed and innovative mining industry in Québec.