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While some claim there’s another gold rush underway in Nova Scotia, others are saying not so fast.
While mining industry proponents took part in a Halifax conference last week, a network with opposing views held some sessions of their own.
Water Not Gold was promoted as a counter-campaign to the Nova Scotia Gold Show held Thursday and Friday. The campaign is supported by the Nova Scotia Environmental Network, the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club Foundation, the Ecology Action Centre, the St. Mary's River Association, Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia, East Coast Environmental Law and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.
The groups maintain the Nova Scotia government supports the expansion of gold mining on the Eastern Shore and in northern parts of the province, potentially affecting several watersheds and communities.
One of the participants on a panel discussing sustainable alternatives to mining has viewed the precious metal a couple of ways. John Perkins was an artist.
“Two years ago, I had a very different relationship with gold,” Perkins said Saturday at St. Andrew's United Church in Halifax.
“I was actually using gold for artistic practice.”
It was around then the Earltown man heard about a proposed mine near his home, and he became concerned about protecting the water supply.
“My world changed at that point.”
Perkins is a member of the Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia group that opposes gold exploration in the Warwick Mountain area. He made the news in May, when he was arrested at a public information session organized by Atlantic Gold Corp. at the Sherbrooke Fire Hall.
He said there are a couple of things that should be done to put extractive industries like mining in perspective.
“We need to uproot, tear up and throw away 500 years of colonial oppression,” Perkins said.
“The second thing that we need to do is to link the issue of gold mining to the issue of global climate catastrophe, and we need to decarbonize as well as decolonize. Gold mines produce an incredible amount of greenhouse gas emissions, they use enormous quantities of water that they pollute for decades or centuries, and they take our land and return it in an unfit-for-human-and-animal-life condition.”
Meanwhile, the industry touts glittering statistics.
“Nova Scotia is in the middle of a gold rush,” said Sean Kirby, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, in a news release in May announcing the inaugural conference.
“One gold mine opened in 2017, four are in the permitting process and there is a lot of exploration taking place. The Nova Scotia Gold Show will be an opportunity for investors and exploration companies to learn about the exciting opportunities in Nova Scotia.”
The mining association says the province’s mining and quarrying industry employs about 5,500 Nova Scotians and generates $420 million annually in economic activity.
The gold show was a private event for the industry and government representatives, and featured speakers from mining companies and site tours. It was planned by MANS in partnership with the Nova Scotia Prospectors Association and the provincial government.
Organizers of Water Not Gold said the group’s members are not simply anti-mining. They bill themselves as in favour of things like sustainable development, community self-determination and Indigenous sovereignty.