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

Comments on “Talking Targets: Canada’s Climate Future” -- Environment and Climate Change Canada’s engagement on the 2035 emissions reduction target (April 2024)

The Government of Canada created the “2030 Emissions Reduction Plan” to describe steps required to reduce emissions across the entire economy to reach our emissions reduction target of 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and put us on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This complements the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, the Clean Fuel Standard and Canada’s international obligations under the Paris Agreement.

The government released a 2023 Progress Report on the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan and invited Canadians to share their views on Canada's Climate Future through a virtual public engagement platform. The input gathered from this process will be one of several factors considered when setting the 2035 target. The implications of the 2035 target may manifest through taxation, capital markets, regulatory affairs, and access to talent, or other avenues.

PDAC encouraged their members to participate in the virtual engagement platform and submitted a commentary letter outlining the relationship between critical mineral demand through 2035 and emission projections over the same period.


PDAC Recommendations 

The Government of Canada must acknowledge that emission reduction relies solely on developing new energy sources for consumers and alternatives for industry. Simply relying on carbon taxation without providing viable energy and transportation supply chains dooms the strategy to fail. A key PDAC recommendation for the 2035 reduction targets is to integrate and bolster the minerals industry. Misperceptions of the benefits and opportunities that the mineral industry presents will hinder timelines and impugn the success of mineral projects in Canada. Identifying minerals as a critical piece of the 2035 Emissions Reduction Plans can help correct any misperceptions.


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Written submission on concepts provided in the Right to a Healthy Environment in CEPA Implementation Framework Discussion Document (March 2024)

On June 13, 2023, Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, received royal assent. The Bill outlined amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act which was enacted in 1999. The goal is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention and to protect the environment, human life and health from the risks associated with toxic substances.

The Government is developing an implementation framework “the Framework” to set out how the right to a healthy environment will be considered in administering the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. These elements include the scope and limits of the right, related principles as well as procedural duties.

PDAC addressed a written submission to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Health to provide perspective on the definition of healthy environments in Canada with a particular focus on the context of early-stage mineral exploration and development projects.


PDAC Recommendations 

PDAC seeks an evidence-based approach to healthy environments that recognizes industrial activity can occur within established standards.  It is necessary to measure both economic and industrial growth as it relates to environmental and health indicators, for degradation in any of these areas is counter to the purpose of the act.

  • By aligning environmental objectives with preexisting regulations, strategies and commitments, policymakers can ensure that the right to a healthy environment is upheld while minimizing undue burdens on small businesses and fostering a conducive environment for responsible and inclusive economic growth.
  • By relying on robust scientific research and expert assessments, policymakers can support objective decisions with data, leading to increased public trust and confidence in regulatory processes.

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Written submission to NRCan’s “Let’s Talk Critical Minerals” consultation on Canada’s Critical Minerals List criteria (February 2024)

As part of NRCan’s commitment to triennial updates to Canada’s Critical Minerals List, a consultation was initiated regarding the criteria used to develop and update the List. The proposed changes to the criteria, intended to clarify the original assessment of minerals for criticality, would require that a mineral be:

  • Essential to Canada’s economic or national security; or
  • Required for our national transition to a sustainable low-carbon and digital economy; or
  • A sustainable and strategic source of critical minerals for our international allies.

While meeting both of the following mandatory criteria:

  • Mineral supply is threatened; and
  • Has a reasonable likelihood of being produced in Canada.

In addition to the presented submission, PDAC participated in virtual consultation engagements with NRCan. It should be noted that the consultation’s scope was limited to the Critical Minerals List criteria; commentary on the inclusion of specific minerals on the List or as part of funding programs or tax incentives has therefore not been provided.


PDAC Recommendations 

While clarity on the development of the Critical Minerals List is welcome, PDAC’s response emphasizes that the formulation of these definitions should not come at the expense of rapid development of robust critical minerals supply chains. Notably:

  • The addition of the two mandatory criteria may impose unnecessary constraints on the development of Canada’s critical minerals capacity;
  • Specifically, the current state of our critical minerals value chain requires emphasis to be placed on exploration and discovery, which may be constrained by a requirement for near- to medium-term production;
  • Modifying the relationship between the criteria such that a mineral would need to meet two or three of the five to be considered for inclusion on the List may be an effective way to avoid the pitfalls presented by the two mandatory criteria.

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Commentary on the legislative proposals related to the Income Tax Act – Clean Technology Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit (February 2024 / Updated: April 2024)

As part of its strategy to pursue the low carbon economy and achieve national net-zero goals for Canada, in Budget 2023 the Federal Government announced various tax incentives related to a range of emission reduction technologies.

One incentive that is relevant to the mineral sector is the Clean Technology Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit (CTM-ITC), which will provide a refundable 30% tax credit for capital investment in various eligible activities to extract and process six critical minerals that are essential for these clean technologies – copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt, graphite and rare earth elements.

On December 20, 2023, Finance Canada published the draft legislation for the CTM-ITC, on which PDAC responded with a commentary letter to convey some concerns regarding the proposed legislation and to improve the effectiveness of this incentive.


PDAC Recommendations 

While PDAC is very supportive of this new incentive, our letter highlights the following emphases: 
  • Eligibility threshold: our key concern is that currently eligibility threshold is at least 90% critical minerals production, and our recommendation is to set this threshold at 50%. Where production of qualifying materials falls below 50%, we recommend that the credit percentage will gradually decline on a sliding scale.
  • Measurement methodology: We recommend using a value-based approach for production measurement, based on forecasted prices, with final validation based on realized prices.
  • Lease recognition: we recommend that expenses on leased equipment will be recognized and eligible for the credit.

Read our full response

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.

In early 2024, PDAC followed up with a written submission to ECCC’s Milestone Document which contained the draft biodiversity strategy. 

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. 

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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.

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Perspectives for consideration during amendments to the Impact Assessment Act (February, 2024)

On Oct 13th, 2023, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the "designated projects" portion of the federal Impact Assessment Act (the Act) as unconstitutional; this decision was made on the basis that the Act  is not directed at regulating effects within federal jurisdiction, and that the defined term "effects within federal jurisdiction" does not align with federal legislative jurisdiction.

The Act, which replaced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) in August 2019, is a planning and decision-making tool through which the federal government assess various potential environmental and social/economic effects of major projects. The Act as currently written has significant implications for the mineral development sector.

In February 2024, PDAC submitted feedback on the opportunities presented by this ruling to address both the unconstitutionality of the designated projects list and other issues identified by our members that have occurred during the Act’s implementation.


PDAC Recommendations 

PDAC’s recommendations aim to align the Act with its initial objectives of efficient and timely project assessments, greater stakeholder and rightsholder certainty, and equitable industry representation. We recommend amending the Act such that it will:

  • Limit information requirements, imposed conditions, and the definition of effects to those that fall within federal jurisdiction, and ensure that the Project List is focused on projects with reasonable potential for adverse effects on areas of federal jurisdiction;
  • Seek greater efficiencies in cross-government cooperation to reduce permitting redundancies, limit the risk of over-consultation, and relieve capacity burdens on regulators, proponents, and communities;
  • Enable collaboration with provincial/territorial authorities to establish a documented and consistent approach for identifying communities of interest during development of the Indigenous Engagement and Partnership Plan and the Public Participation Plan.

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Response to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Supply Chain Regulatory Review related to the critical minerals industry (February, 2024)

In November 2023, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat launched the Supply Chain Regulatory Review. This consultation, incorporating a critical minerals theme, is intended to complement efforts taken under the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy (launched in 2022) to ensure efficient regulatory processes and supply chain resiliency.

Without critical mineral exploration and development, there is no critical mineral supply chain. Steps must be taken to bolster the development of Canadian mines by supporting the trade and financing that make them possible, as well as coordinating support for mineral exploration and development within federal departments and different levels of government.


PDAC Recommendations 

To enable Canadian mines to participate in the critical minerals supply chain, PDAC recommends the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat consider the following:

  • Prepare to extend the Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund and available per project allocations to better capture the costs of significant infrastructure projects;
  • Identify opportunistic locations to establish critical mineral hubs or activity centres to create community economic development opportunities and improve the flow of critical minerals;
  • Provide clarification to mineral companies and investors on review processes for foreign investment in Canadian critical minerals projects to ensure predictability and reduce investor uncertainty.

Read our full response