Introductory Remarks at the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference

August 24, 2016

Introductory Remarks by Dr. John Barrett, President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
at the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference
August 21, 2016

Good morning, my name is John Barrett.  I am the President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, which represents Canada’s nuclear industry – including uranium mining and fuel fabrication; emissions-free 24/7 power generation; highly skilled engineering and construction firms and unions; advanced reactor designers; researchers and innovators in nuclear-based technologies; and Canada’s own world-class Chalk River national laboratories.

CNA is proud to sponsor this morning’s breakfast and help bring us today’s speaker.

Let me thank Minister Carr and Minister Cullen for the invitation to attend this year’s EMMC.  The topic of “Public Confidence in Energy and Mining Development” is important and timely.

Before we hear from this morning’s keynote speaker, the very distinguished First Nations leader Phil Fontaine, I would just offer a few words on the participation and engagement of energy and mining stakeholders, in particular with indigenous communities.

The Canadian nuclear industry has a long-standing partnership with Canada’s First Nations.  Many of our members work very closely with indigenous communities to ensure that economic and social benefits accrue to those who live on, or near, the traditional lands where we conduct our activities.

From the extraction and processing of uranium, to the construction and operation and nuclear power production facilities – Canada’s nuclear industry is committed to forging lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with indigenous communities.

For example, over the last two decades, uranium miner Cameco has worked closely with neighbouring First Nations and Métis communities to maximize employment, capacity-building, workforce development and community investment – while collaborating to minimize the environmental impact of mining and processing operations on traditional activities.  These partnerships are widely regarded as exemplary in the realm of indigenous consultation and engagement.

Cameco is but one example of our industry’s commitment.  The nuclear industry recognizes it must work with all communities of interest to maintain and grow its central role in producing clean energy and electricity to sustain Canada’s low-carbon future.

One of the bases of public confidence and trust is to raise awareness of, and to share, the benefits of resource development and clean energy for enhanced quality of life.  In our industry, the two go hand-in-glove.  Uranium mining produces carbon-free fuel that generates significant quantities of heat and emissions-free electricity, available day and night.

This is where innovation comes in.

The industry is currently working on next generation nuclear power, such as small modular reactors, which hold much promise helping provide clean, affordable, safe and reliable power to northern and remote communities and mining sites.  The positive economic feasibility and emissions-reducing environmental impact of such reactors for remote mining sites have been analyzed by the respected Canadian engineering firm, Hatch, for the Ontario and federal governments.

We invite these communities and stakeholders to explore with us a new kind of empowerment – in both senses of the word – through the benefits of clean energy and through participation in revenue-sharing and ownership.

Nuclear offers low-carbon, sustainable energy solutions to economic development and climate challenges of today and tomorrow. In fact, the Ontario government decision to refurbish and extend the life of 10 power reactors at the Bruce and Darlington sites represent the biggest investment in clean energy in North America and beyond. Nuclear accounts for around 60% of Ontario’s electricity generation. Or, consider the amount of Canadian and global CO2 emissions that have been avoided over the years, thanks to Canada’s uranium exports and CANDU technology exports. No other mining can lay claim to this contribution.

We are, therefore pleased that the federal government has confirmed that nuclear is an important part of Canada’s clean energy/clean tech profile by including the industry in its “Mission Innovation” initiative.

To complement this, we in the industry propose a Nuclear Innovation Council for provinces and the federal government to join with industry and stakeholders in giving shape, guidance and support to the innovative applications of nuclear technology for the benefit of all Canadians.

Given its pertinence to energy and mining stakeholders across the country, we strongly support the EMMC’s examination of public confidence – and look forward to what promises to be a rich and interesting discussion.

Thank you.

My logo