Climate change and mining in Canada

  • Tristan D. Pearce
  • James David Ford
  • Jason Prno
  • Frank Duerden
  • Jeremy Pittman
  • Maude Beaumier
  • Lea Berrang-Ford
  • Barry Smit
Original Article


Climate is an important component of the operating environment for the Canadian mining sector. However, in recent years mines across Canada have been affected by significant climatic hazards, several which are regarded to be symptomatic of climate change. For the mining sector, climate change is a pressing environmental threat and a significant business risk. The extent to which the mining sector is able to mitigate its own impact and adapt to climate change will affect its long-term success and prosperity, and have profound economic consequences for host communities. This paper draws upon case studies conducted with mining operations in Canada involving in-depth interviews with mining professionals and analysis of secondary sources to characterize the vulnerability of the Canadian mining industry to climate change. Five key findings are discussed: i) mines in the case studies are affected by climate events that are indicative of climate change, with examples of negative impacts over the past decade; ii) most mine infrastructure has been designed assuming that the climate is not changing; iii) most industry stakeholders interviewed view climate change as a minor concern; iv) limited adaption planning for future climate change is underway; v) significant vulnerabilities exist in the post-operational phase of mines. This paper argues for greater collaboration among mining companies, regulators, scientists and other industry stakeholders to develop practical adaptation strategies that can be integrated into existing and new mine operations, including in the post-operational phase.


Adaptation Canada Climate change Hazards Industry Mining Planning Resource management Vulnerability 



The research was funded by the David Suzuki Foundation and also benefited from in-kind support from ArcticNorth Consulting, SSHRC Vanier Doctoral Scholarship, University of Guelph Scholarships, SSHRC Canada Research Chairs program, the Global Environmental Change Group in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph, and the Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Research Group at McGill University. We acknowledge the intellectual contributions made by Dale Marshall, David Suzuki Foundation, Tanya Smith, ArcticNorth Consulting, and Erica Beasley, McGill University. Thank you to Adam Bonnycastle for Figs. 1 and 2 and Andrew Reid for research assistance. We would like to thank all people and organizations that assisted us in this project including, the mining operations featured in the case studies and numerous mining industry practitioners. Also, thank you to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) for permission to survey at the 2008 annual conference.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tristan D. Pearce
    • 1
  • James David Ford
    • 2
  • Jason Prno
    • 3
  • Frank Duerden
    • 4
  • Jeremy Pittman
    • 5
  • Maude Beaumier
    • 2
  • Lea Berrang-Ford
    • 2
  • Barry Smit
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesWilfred Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.Department of GeographyRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of GeographyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada

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