It’s important for communities, citizens and interested groups to have opportunities to provide input regarding development projects. There are multiple opportunities to provide input throughout the stages of a project’s path from exploration to development. In general, the opportunities and the level of input from stakeholders will match the level of disturbance and potential impacts at each stage of a project’s progression. At the earliest stages of exploration, there are significantly fewer impacts relative to when a mine project is proposed. A guide to community consultation was released by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2013: https://novascotia.ca/natr/meb/community-consultation/consultation-reports.asp.
Opportunities to provide input before an exploration license is issued:
Opportunities to provide input after an exploration license is issued:
For a company to carry out mineral exploration anywhere in the province, a mineral license issued by DNR is required. A requirement of holding an exploration license under the new Mineral Resources Act, which will be proclaimed in the spring of 2018, will be for the company to have a community engagement plan. The engagement plan must be acceptable to the Minister of Natural Resources. Should members of the community feel that the exploration company’s community engagement and opportunities for input haven’t been adequate, they will be invited to contact the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister will then review the effectiveness of the company’s engagement plan.
Also note that a mineral exploration license holder must have the permission of private land owners before entering onto private land to carry out mineral exploration.
Opportunities to provide input before mining starts:
Only between 1 in 5 000 and 1 in 10 000 exploration efforts lead to the opening of a mine. Should a project advance to the stage of a proposed mine, the project will require an environmental assessment approval and an industrial approval, both issued by Nova Scotia Environment. A proposed mine project may also trigger a federal review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) process. The provincial and federal environmental assessment processes include opportunities for input from civil society, municipalities and environmental non-government organizations.