Mines Ministers’ Conference (MMC)

"The Top Three Priorities: Sustainable Development of Mining in Canada"


Fairmont Hotel, Winnipeg

September 17, 2002







Manitoba’s Protected Areas Commitments

The Mining Sector Consultation — Working Toward Sustainability

















Gaile Whelan Enns

Manitoba Director

Wildlands Campaign

Canadian Nature Federation

August 2002

Manitoba’s Protected Areas Commitments

The Mining Sector Consultation — Working Toward Sustainability

All jurisdictions in Canada are grappling with the need for environmental protection of sensitive ecological areas and the need to fulfill expectations to establish networks of protected areas. The mining sector protected areas consultation in Manitoba is unique in Canada and provides the industry with confidence that areas of high mineral potential will be identified and will help shape the boundaries of protected areas. This approach was highlighted in the PDAC brief to Mines Ministers in Charlottetown, 1999 as an approach that more jurisdictions should attempt to emulate.

Manitoba's commitment to establish a network of protected areas to represent each of our natural regions began in 1990, when the province became the first jurisdiction in Canada to commit to World Wildlife Fund Canada's Endangered Spaces Campaign (ESC). The goal of the Endangered Spaces Campaign, which ended in mid-2000, was to establish a network of protected areas representing all of Canada's natural regions. At that time Manitoba led other Canadian jurisdictions in the proportion of lands and waters established as protected areas between 1990 and 2000. Despite this ranking, there is much left to do to complete Manitoba’s protected areas network.

Public policy to complete Manitoba’s network of protected areas continues today. A new provincial Action Plan for a Network of Protected Areas, released spring 2000, continued consultations with industry and First Nations, and recent confirmations of the government’s intention to complete our protected areas network combine to underline the importance of the mining sector consultation. As of summer 2002 there are over 140 Areas of Special Interest being reviewed for possible protected status. The mining sector consultation has reviewed most of these.

The World Wildlife Fund Canada Endangered Spaces Campaign coordinator in Manitoba continues today as the Manitoba Director, Wildlands Campaign, for the Canadian Nature Federation. This includes her continuing role in the Mining Sector Consultation. With the project manager for the mining sector consultation, who is supported by WWF Canada, the CNF director participates in all aspects of the ongoing mining sector protected areas consultation.

Dual Technical Base — Joint Work

Manitoba's Protected Areas Initiative aims to protect representative samples of each of the province's terrestrial natural regions. Designation for protection under Manitoba's PAI prohibits all resource extraction activity within the protected area, including mineral exploration and development.

In early 1998, a working group was established to review Areas of Special Interest (ASI).

The three parties working together in the mining sector consultation are:

  1. The mineral exploration industry, through the Mining Association of Manitoba Inc. and Mineral Exploration Liaison Committee (MELC).
  2. Government of Manitoba
  1. Protected Areas Initiative staff from Parks and Natural Areas Branch, Department of Conservation.
  2. Manitoba Geological Survey and Mines Branch staff, Department of Industry, Trade and Mines.


  1. Third party environmental non-government organizations: WWF Canada Mining Sector project manager and Canadian Nature Federation Manitoba Wildlands Campaign Director.

The Parks and Natural Areas Branch of Manitoba Conservation is the lead agency for the PAI. This Branch defines study areas called Areas of Special Interest (ASI) for possible protection through "enduring features analysis". Enduring features methodology identifies the combinations of soils, geology, climate and landforms (enduring features) that influences biodiversity. The methodology also assesses the contribution of each protected area or ASI in representing biological diversity within a natural region, and designs study areas to fill gaps in enduring feature and natural region representation.

Fulfillment of the ecological principles and design methods outlined in the Action Plan are needed to achieve representation of Manitoba’s natural regions. Areas of Special Interest are used to focus consultations and are not protected in any formal manner. ASI boundaries often are adjusted in response to new information from consultations.

Three committees are involved in the PAI mining sector consultation process.

  1. The Mineral Exploration Liaison Committee (MELC) is an industry-led group composed of representatives from all Manitoba exploration and mining associations, including the Manitoba Prospectors and Developers Association, Manitoba-Saskatchewan Prospectors and Developers Association, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, and Mining Association of Manitoba, Inc. This committee also has government (Industry, Trade and Mines) representation and functions to provide liaison and coordination with government geoscience and regulatory agencies on a variety of issues. In the PAI mining sector consultation, the role of MELC is to review and ratify rankings recommended by the Land Access Subcommittee (below).
  2. The MELC Land Access Subcommittee includes representatives from the industry component of the full MELC committee. As well, representatives from Parks and Natural Areas Branch, Mines Branch, Manitoba Geological Survey, and Canadian Nature Federation/World Wildlife Fund Canada attend to provide technical information and support. The role of this committee is to "rank" ASIs brought forward by Parks Branch for suitability for protection, based on their mineral potential. The ranking scheme was developed by the industry partners and is used in the consultation process as follows:

  1. The Communication Steering Committee (CSC) is a small governance/oversight committee for the mining sector consultation process and has representatives from each of the partners in the consultation. The role of the Steering Committee is to develop consultation policy and work plans, to ensure that the MELC committees are supplied with the materials and information required to make decisions.


Technical Review

In a typical work cycle, the Communication Steering Committee in conjunction with Parks and Natural Areas Branch draws up a list of ASIs to be considered at the next ranking session. The work plan for each year, including scheduling of meetings and technical sessions is also arrived at through the Communication Steering Committee. For each ASI (or group of small ASIs) in the work plan for a ranking session, Manitoba Geological Survey (MGS) staff produce written exploration summaries from cancelled assessment files and existing mineral potential data. The MGS also produces maps in GIS, which show the ASIs in their geological, geophysical and mineral disposition context. This information is passed to the Land Use Subcommittee in advance of ranking sessions so that the ASIs can be discussed in the home associations. At a ranking session, Land Access Subcommittee members discuss each ASI in turn and apply a recommended rank (1 to 4, above) based on the perceived mineral potential.

The technical ranking exercise also uses the natural regions and enduring features data and maps.

The status of a natural region, whether protected areas networks are complete or not, whether enduring features are yet represented inside a protected areas are all discussed. Certain biodiversity hotspots, species concerns, and public expectations about a specific site often come up for discussion. Areas nominated by participants in other consultations come up for ranking, as do old crown land designations which are being queried for the potential to upgrade management plans so that protected status is in place. A full map sheet of the province showing mineral belts, dispositions, natural region information, and also consultation results is distributed to the industry by PAI staff each year.

The rankings are tabulated and added to a master ASI Position Summary Chart maintained by the World Wildlife Fund coordinator and the CSC. A meeting of the full MELC committee is scheduled by the CSC after a ranking session, and all ASIs recommended Rank 1 or Rank 2 are brought forward to MELC for review and discussion. Some or all are ratified as Rank 1 and the remainder are referred back to the Land Use Subcommittee for further review and information-gathering.

Ongoing activity to be ready to review Rank 3 ASIs continues through the consultation work plan. On occasion, the Land Use Subcommittee nominates an area for protected status. According to a protocol established between the departments of Conservation and Industry, Trade and Mines, ASIs that have been ratified Rank 1 by the full MELC committee are requested in writing by the Director of Parks to be placed in a "withdrawal pending" status. This means that the Crown mineral rights in these areas are not available for new mineral dispositions, pending final resolution of the area's status and future designation of protected lands.

The third party environmental organizations participate in all technical sessions and meetings of the consultation. Duties are balanced between advocacy for final decisions regarding protected areas and technical coordination of the consultation. The technical coordinator works with government departments, industry and the CSC to maintain consistency in consultation operations.


When a decision is reached to protect an ASI or nominated area, an appropriate designation is selected for permanent protection. These decisions are based on the outcomes from consultations led by the Parks and Natural Areas Branch. If the decision is made to use the Provincial Parks Act, the area is provided with interim protection through designation as a Park Reserve. Designation of an area as a Park Reserve protects the land by prohibiting mining, logging, hydro-electric, oil and gas development, as well as other activities that could significantly and adversely affect natural habitat. Park Reserve status provides up to an additional five years for continued consultation with First Nations, communities, Metis, community organizations, and industry groups. Park Reserve status provides protection while boundaries are finalized and management issues are identified.

Other crown land designations may become protected areas in Manitoba, and protection regulations can occur under various Acts. See the map provided of protected lands in Manitoba 2001. The legend shows the diversity of protected areas under regulation in Manitoba.

Today, approximately 8.3% of Manitoba's landmass is in protected status (including National Parks, certain crown land designations, and those portions of all Provincial Parks and Park Reserves in which mining is excluded). Manitoba led all Canadian jurisdictions in the percentage increase of landmass protected during the WWF Canada Endangered Spaces Campaign. An additional 6% is supported for protection by the mining industry as Rank 1 ASIs or sector nominated areas. Rank 1 ASIs have been placed in "withdrawal pending" status by the Mines Branch. The mining sector Rank 1 ASIs currently total 4 million hectares or 9.9 million acres. The lands in which exploration is restricted are shown on the accompanying map.

The maps provided with this submission are listed below in the References. The aim is to provide snapshots of the status of protected lands in Manitoba in 1990, at the beginning of the Endangered Spaces Campaign, and then again in 2001. We are also providing maps of the Rank 1 sites that have been approved for protected status by the mining sector protected areas consultation.

The "Protected Lands in Manitoba" map from the Geological Survey of Manitoba can be found in their map gallery. It shows lands closed to mining activity, including those protected, and the current Rank 1 ASIs. The Mining Supported Areas map (See our web site references.) from the Protected Areas Initiative shows the boundary of the theoretical Areas of Special Interest, with dark turquoise being the boundary of the mining sector Rank 1 ASIs.

Industry Parties to the Consultation

Very early on in the preparation and negotiation to start this protected areas consultation it occurred to me that perhaps I was talking with industry representatives who freely admitted their self interest AND wanted to work to achieve societal goals. I knew if this was so, that we would have a very interesting time. As we all know there is a very considerable difference between the rhetoric of supporting, for instance, establishment of protected areas networks, and the reality of spending time and resources for 5 years in technical sessions in order to achieve that goal.

In the beginning we identified the common frustrations, and challenges which those around our table we were dealing with. They included the need for certainty in crown lands decisions, including for protected areas establishment; the intent and need to work on a joint technical basis; and the need to respect obligations to First Nations. Quickly we moved to a common understanding that mining companies need more than a development or environmental license. They and all large corporations who actively use natural resources also must achieve a social license, based on society’s expectations. The protected areas consultation in Manitoba is one ‘clause’ in the social license of the organizations and companies participating.

It is important not to underestimate what it takes to do what we are doing. It is also important to acknowledge the courage, commitment and professionalism of the lead staff and committee members from TANCO, Falconbridge, INCO, Hudsons Bay Mining & Smelting, and Mining Association of Manitoba Inc. (After all, their peers thought they were taking the Whitehorse Mining Initiative protected areas commitments a bit too seriously!) As mentioned above the prospectors associations in Manitoba have consistently participated in the consultation sessions. Often this has involved travel from northern Manitoba, volunteer time spent reviewing materials before a ranking session, and the expected lobbying about protection standards! All the individuals who have been part of the Mining Association of Manitoba land use sub committee are to be acknowledged for their good will, and continuing participation. Along the way we have disagreed, compromised, learned (the environmentalists and miners alike) and worked together. Even such a specific technical process is ultimately a human endeavor. For those who wonder what this all means . . . it is simple, and also fairly complex. Individuals, with their organizational accountabilities, even when they do not always agree fully — have continued to work together to complete networks of protected areas in Manitoba. That is what social license is about.

The Manitoba Geological Survey, the Mines Branch, and their minister, the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk have provided technical support, staff resources, and guidance throughout. Much of the text for this submission is from the ITM web site. Their mapping and GIS products are essential tools in the consultation. As we learn, and evolve the model for our consultation, the MGS staff continue to maintain the consultation technical and mapping standards while fulfilling their responsibilities under the Mines Act. All of the provincial geologists who provide mineral assessments, the mining recorders, and the support staff through the department are to be congratulated and thanked also.

Well we have had an interesting time! We continue to do so. With continued support from World Wildlife Fund Canada, we are currently beginning the work plan for the 2002 — 2003 consultation year. Manitoba’s sound public policy for protected areas establishment is the foundation for our joint work.

It could be said that the Manitoba Mining Sector Protected Areas Consultation is providing Manitoba Conservation and the Manitoba government with the essential materials to finish building the province’s network of protected areas. Each Rank 1 that is waiting for a decision represents quality technical work, and the intent of the industry in Manitoba to deliver the societal goal — completed protected areas networks.




Gaile Whelan Enns

Manitoba Director

Wildlands Campaign

Canadian Nature Federation

August, 2002



GIS Map Gallery, Department of Industry, Trade & Mines, Manitoba Government, 2002. http://www.gov.mb.ca/itm/mrd/geo/gis/index.html

Hummel, M. 1989. Endangered Spaces — the Future for Canada’s Wilderness. Key Porter Books Limited: Toronto.

Hummel, M. 1995. Protecting Endangered Spaces — An Owner’s Manual. Key Porter Books: Toronto.

Iacobelli, T, Kavanagh, K, and Rowe, S. 1995(?) A Protected Areas Gap Analysis Methodology: Planning for the Conservation of Biodiversity. World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Manitoba Protected Areas information, 2002. http://www.manitobawildlands.org

Manitoba’s Protected Areas Initiative - Mining Sector Consultation Process, Department of Industry, Trade & Mines, Manitoba Government, 2002. http://www.gov.mb.ca/itm/mrd/geo/exp-sup/min-pai.html

Noss, R. 1995. Maintaining Ecological Integrity in Representative Reserve Networks. A World Wildlife Fund Canada / World Wildlife Fund — United States Discussion Paper.

Parks and Natural Areas Branch, Manitoba Government, 2002. http://www.gov.mb.ca/natres/parks/index.html

Protected Areas Initiative, Parks and Natural Areas Branch, Manitoba Government, 2002. http://www.gov.mb.ca/natres/pai/

World Wildlife Fund Canada, 2000. Endangered Spaces — the wilderness campaign that changed the Canadian landscape.


Maps Attached:

Protected Lands Manitoba 1990 (Manitoba Conservation Protected Areas Initiative)

Protected Lands Manitoba 2002 (Manitoba Conservation Protected Areas Initiative)

Mining Supported Areas (Rank Ones) 2002 (Manitoba Conservation Protected Areas Initiative)

Protected Lands 2002 (Industry, Trade & Mines, Manitoba Geological Survey)