The report, downloadable online from the group's website, recommends underground mining over open pit and urges a focus on high-grade orebodies, while leaving lower grades in the ground. It also recommends operators void interactions with ground and surface water and avoid construction of large tailings impoundments with perpetual water treatment requirements.
SkeenaWild also urges miners to follow four essential principles: to build positive relationships with affected communities and other stakeholders by obtaining broad community support and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for proposed projects, and by performing meaningful stakeholder engagement; and to minimise environmental harm by complying with the precautionary principle and following the mitigation hierarchy.
The third principle is for operators to show transparency by publicly reporting, facilitating independent monitoring programmes, and undergoing a wide range of independent expert reviews, and fourth, by leaving positive legacies via sustainable community benefits.
The group's report also includes a case study applying its responsible mining guidelines at the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine project in north-west British Columbia, along with a checklist to assess other mine projects and operators.
"Too frequently, standard ways of designing and managing mine projects result in habitat loss, pollution, catastrophic failure or abandonment of projects with a legacy of negative environmental impacts," co-author Michael Price said.
"We wanted to make a productive contribution to the conversation by highlighting what we see as the suite of best practices in today's mining industry."