Research and Development
Research and development is a key component in building a long-term sustainable development strategy for the mining industry. Traditionally, the mining industry re-invested very little into innovation; particularly in contrast to manufacturing firms, which generally demonstrate much higher commitment to research and development and other forms of innovation.
One way to encourage research and development is through a technology policy. Such a policy could include, for example:
- a technology transfer strategy;
- tax relief on research and the training of engineers and managers in environmental technology;
- government grants for collaborative university-industry research projects;
- information dissemination programmes; and,
- training for regulators so they are informed disseminators of information on environmental technologies.73
The lack of reinvestment in research and development by the mining industry can also be overcome by legal provisions that authorize particular agencies to carry out research and development, and that secure funding for such research from operating mines. These Recommended Solutions are considered below.
Empower agencies to conduct research and development
[Tags: Innovation; Research and Development]
Several jurisdictions have enacted legal provisions that empower specific agencies to carry out research and development. For example:
- In Manitoba, the Minerals Research Advisory Group, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, is empowered to “promote and assist scientific and technological innovation through basic and applied research and development in respect of mineral exploration and mining.”74
- In Colorado, a Mines Land Reclamation Board is empowered to initiate and encourage studies and programs relating to the development of less destructive methods of mining operations, better methods of land reclamation, and more effective reclaimed land use.75
- In the United States, land grant universities76 are required to play a significant role in fundamental research, as well as the evaluation and analysis of policies and programs that affect the public at large in a variety of disciplines critical to global policy-makers.
Mandate financial contributions to a research and development fund by operating mines
[Tags: Research and Development; Mining Community]
A secure source of funding is essential to ensure adequate research and development is carried out. This approach is adopted at the federal level for the oil and gas industry. Canadian federal law requires petroleum operators holding an exploration, significant discovery or a production licence to contribute to the Environmental Studies and Research Fund.77 The objective of this fund is to finance environmental and social studies to determine the terms and conditions under which exploration, development and production activities should take place.78 A similar approach would be beneficial to encourage a more sustainable BC mining industry.