Session C, April 27, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET
Resource Management: Infinite Wants and Minimal Wastes

Session Chairs:  Jim Whyte, P.Geo., Ontario Securities Commission and Kristina Small, P.Geo., Concentric Geoscience
A moderated Q & A will follow after the panel presentations.



Presentation 1:  Ontario Regulation 406/19 – Incorporating Requirements into Projects and Challenges Faced

Pravina Singh, P.Eng., Group Leader, SNC-Lavalin Inc. - SEE SPEAKER'S BIO

In 2019, Ontario passed the On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (O. Reg. 406/19) and published the associated “Rules for Soil Management and Excess Soil Quality Standards” (the Soil Rules, now amended). This new regulatory framework replaces the “Management of Excess Soil – A Guide for Best Management Practices” (the Guide) which encouraged the reuse of excess soil in the Province of Ontario while minimizing the potential for adverse effects.

The new framework improves on many aspects of the Guide by developing Excess Soil Reuse Standards for receiving sites and being more definitive regarding the Ministry’s expectations on the overall process of excess soil management, from planning to final disposal. As with any new piece of legislature, however, there are challenges that come with its implementation, particularly in this early phase. This presentation aims to discuss some of the challenges that have been faced in incorporating the requirements of the the new regulation into the flow of a project and to share learnings within the community of qualified persons and other stakeholders.

Presentation 2:  Metals for a low-carbon future: from responsible mining to sustainable production and consumption of minerals

Nic Bilham, University of Exeter Business School, Camborne School of Mines, Geology for Global Development - SPEAKER'S BIO 

Decarbonising our energy system and the wider economy will require a huge range of metals and other mined resources, many of which have not previously been extracted and used in significant quantities. The World Bank estimates that deployment of clean energy technologies will require production of minerals such as graphite, cobalt and lithium to increase by nearly 500% by 2050, and that over 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be needed for wind, solar and geothermal power, together with energy storage. Resource efficiency, recycling and other ‘circular economy’ approaches have vital roles to play, but we will need to continue to mine at scale, often in new places and new ways.

All this makes mining as an essential part of any pathway towards a sustainable future – which should also reflect well on geoscientists and their colleagues in the resources sector. But poor mining practices have frequently caused environmental and social harm, and this all too often continues today, despite great improvements on the part of responsible mining companies, and the establishment of numerous responsible mining schemes and standards. Their efforts are poorly connected with manufacturers’ initiatives to source raw materials responsibly across long, complex and opaque global supply chains, and with investors’ increasing focus on ESG (environmental, social and governance) risks. Furthermore, critical metals that are required in smaller quantities are often produced principally as by-products of bulk metals in just a few locations, leaving supply chains vulnerable to disruption and price volatility, building in material inefficiency, and hampering wider sustainability objectives.

This presentation will consider how we can reshape our production and consumption systems to secure the metals we need for a low-carbon future, while contributing to rather than hindering the wider objectives set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and potential opportunities as well as challenges for geoscientists and their fellow professionals in the mining sector. 

Presentation 3:  Groundwater Resource Decision Making – The Power of the Collective

Speaker:  Richard Gerber, P.Geo., Senior Hydrogeologist, Co-Program Manager, Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program -  SEE SPEAKER'S BIO

Consider the many decisions that are made on a regular basis in Ontario that affect groundwater. At the Provincial level, there are periodic legislative decisions made that will broadly affect water resources across the entire province for extended time periods, with the issue of bottled water permits being a recent example. Then there are the many planning related decisions affecting long term land use that will affect Ontario’s groundwater resources for years to come. Provincial technical staff regularly make decisions that will also have long standing impacts on Ontario’s water resources whether they are, for example:
• deliberating on a proposed Permit to Take Water;
• reviewing and charting directions for the clean-up of a contaminated site;
• approving a nutrient management plan;
• deciding on a quarry expansion; or
• working on any number of other land use or water management issues.

Similarly, at a municipal or conservation authority level, technical staff regularly review and comment on land development proposals that set direction for decisions that will affect both groundwater quality and quantity for many years into the future. On a daily basis, consultants collect and analyse data, supporting their clients in minimizing the impacts of their projects on our water resources. Thousands of decisions made annually, at every temporal and spatial scale.

What science-based evidence is used to support these many decisions? Is it sufficient and can we do better? The Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program has proven to be a leader in facilitating improved water resource decisions. Integrating historical with recent data and analyses, integrating geology with hydrology, integrating science with planning – these are all sound strategies that the ORMGP utilizes to enable program partners to deliver robust decision-making and support water management.

Presentation 4:  A Simple Metal but a Complex Commodity: Lithium Deposits, Production, and Economics

James Whyte, P.Geo., Ontario Securities Commission - SEE SPEAKER'S BIO

Lithium currently has a high profile as one of the “battery metals”, whose markets are expected to expand along with electric vehicle production and energy storage projects. As simple as its chemistry might be, its economically interesting deposits come in an unusual variety of geological settings – pegmatites, salars, and deep brines – all of which make for a further variety of extraction operations, recovery methods, and end products. Production costs, marketability, and the economics of lithium operations can run, like Leacock’s Lord Ronald, madly off in all directions.

This talk will present the basics of the three principal deposit types, look at the ways projects are developed, and give a sense of how lithium markets work. The variety of lithium deposits and extraction operations also calls for professionals with some very disparate skill sets to explore, evaluate, and exploit lithium deposits.

Register online for this session or for the full Symposium.