Regulatory Affairs

A central part in PDAC’s goal is supporting our members through policy and advocacy work that aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the Canadian mineral sector. PDAC focuses on legislative and regulatory aspects such as land access, permitting and issues that affect our members. 

Our advocacy takes on a variety of forms, including direct engagement with various government ministries, standing committees and regulatory agencies, as well as responding to public consultations. Below are some of the recent issues we have taken on, with information and links to our submissions. 

Responses to recent public consultations

Discourse on the “Towards a 2030 National Biodiversity Strategy” discussion paper developed by Environment and Climate Change Canada (July, 2023)

In December 2022, Canada hosted the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) which saw nearly 200 countries adopting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).  This framework outlines a set of global goals to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and maintain positive momentum such that by 2050 “biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used.”

Within this commitment, counties are expected to update their National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAP) to align domestic policy with the global goals outlined in the GBF. Revised national strategies must be completed before COP16 in 2024.

On May 15, 2023, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) hosted a National Biodiversity Symposium which kicked off the formal engagement on developing Canada’s 2030 National Biodiversity Strategy. With this, ECCC developed a discussion paper entitled “Towards a 2030 National Biodiversity Strategy“ to gather ideas, information, and perspectives on biodiversity conservation in Canada and to inform the development of the Biodiversity Strategy. 

PDAC participated in a virtual natural resources sectors engagement session hosted by NRCan and ECCC, additionally, PDAC has formally submitted a response to the discussion paper to outline how mineral exploration can contribute to the realization of biodiversity targets.

PDAC Recommendations 

PDAC seeks a balanced approach when it comes to conservation efforts and the responsible use of natural resources. This ensures long-term environmental, social, and economic benefits. When developing the National Biodiversity Strategy, these overarching values must be considered:

  • The Biodiversity Strategy should support other federal priorities like the Net-Zero Plans and Critical Minerals Strategy. Climate change poses a significant threat to biodiversity, and responsible mineral exploration practices can help preserve it.
  • Consultation with industry, provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities is crucial to ensure diverse perspectives are respected. Accessible engagement platforms and participatory mechanisms must be available for meaningful participation.

Read our full response

Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC) Consultation – Notice of Amendments to Standard 722.16 Aerial Work (June 19, 2023)

In December 2022, the Ministry of Transportation introduced amendments to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) aimed at restricting commercial pilot flight time. While well intentioned, the amendments lack clarity and may significantly affect mineral exploration by reclassifying much of the industry’s aerial work as “air taxi” operations. This change has major financial and logistical consequences for explorers, as an operation may now need two pilots where one was previously sufficient. More importantly, they pose a notable safety risk, as the reduction in flight hours could limit pilot capacity to participate in evacuations or other emergencies. 

Canadian Aviation Regulations Advisory Council (CARAC) Notice of Amendment NPA-2023-006 indicates that the amendments pose safety risks in the face of an unprecedented wildfire season. As a result, the Ministry of Transportation issued further amendments to the aerial work regulations to clarify the impacts of the changes on forest firefighting operations and launched a one-month consultation period in May 2023.

As the risks to pilots and firefighters arising from the amendments are similar to those foreseen to arise in exploration operations, PDAC’s submission aims to elucidate this relationship and provide key recommendations. 

PDAC Recommendations 

Stakeholders have indicated to PDAC that the original changes lack clarity, thereby increasing regulatory burden for operators, and pose new safety risks, specifically by reducing emergency response capacity. We highlight two recommendations to mitigate these impacts:

  • Expanding the definition of aerial work to ensure all essential activities involved in mineral exploration can be conducted under section 702; 
  • Implementing a voluntary compliance period for regulatory changes until capacity to review operators’ performance-based notices of intent is established. 

Read our full response

Written submission for the study of bill C-34 (An act to amend the Investment Canada Act) by the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (May 2023)

In late 2022 the federal government announced projected changes to its foreign investment policy, which are aimed at addressing various national security concerns. Following that, in February 2023 bill C-34 to amend the Investment Canada Act (ICA) was tabled at the house of common. 

The bill focuses on high-tech companies, but it also addresses mining and exploration companies with critical mineral aspects. In essence, the bill introduces changes that will pose practical limitations on the ability of these companies to be funded by certain foreign investors, and may increase uncertainty and reduce market transparency. 

We have various concerns regarding this bill, and in May 2023 we submitted a commentary letter to the House of Commons’ standing committee on Industry, Science and Technology, in which we laid out our concerns and recommendations. 

PDAC Recommendations 

PDAC recognizes the importance of effectively addressing any national security concerns arising from foreign investments, and is supportive in principle of what bill C-34 is attempting to achieve. However, it is vital that governments in Canada do not place unintentional barriers that may exacerbate existing challenges. 

Our key recommendations were to increase and expedite investment in critical mineral processing capacity in Canada, to exempt Canadian companies from the new pre-filing notification regime for assets located outside of Canada, and to allocate sufficient resources for the review process, so clearances will be obtained in a timely manner. 


Read our full response

Comments on Key Conservation Questions from the Canadian Wildlife Service’s Protected Areas Directorate (September 2022)

In 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s commitment to protecting 25% of Canada’s lands and waters by 2025, and the intention to increase that protection to 30% by 2030, and 50% by 2050. Over the next three years, a number of specific funds and programs were announced through which these lands and waters can be designated protected, yet there had been little direct consultation with the provinces and territories around selection criteria and timelines. 

In 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) solicited responses to “Key Conservation Questions from the Canadian Wildlife Service’s Protected Areas Directorate” to stimulate discussion on advancing protected area gains such that Canada meets its protection goals This consultation sought strategies on linking biodiversity conservation with climate change initiatives; strategic challenges that conservation can be a solution for; and using innovative financial tools for nature conservation.

PDAC’s response includes solutions to these inquiries and goes further to outline the need to ensure the designation of protected areas includes an accurate environmental assessment of the mineral potential of the land at the outset, operates within transparent processes, and prioritizes coordination with respective jurisdictions.

PDAC Recommendations 

PDAC is advocating for government to apply an evidenced-based approach in working to meet Canada’s Target 1 Challenge and conserving 30% of Canada’s land and oceans by 2030. To accomplish this:

  • Governments must establish protected areas and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) that balance other forms of land withdrawals and overarching federal priorities.
  • Consultation prior to creating new protected areas is essential to balance industrial, governmental and indigenous priorities while minimizing potential land use conflicts. A transparent and collaborative process ensures that objectives are achievable and there is consistency in applied methodologies across Canada.

Read our full response