n 2007, a team of mining executives and geologists prospecting about 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay hit a motherlode of high-grade nickel, copper, platinum and palladium in the 2.7-billion-year-old rock. The area the dozers and graders could soon be heading into is a vast but delicate carbon reservoir that cleans the air we breathe and helps to regulate the temperature of the planet.
“You’re now altering the security of that wealth in the bank, and you might be turning those small deposits into large withdrawals of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said Nigel Roulet, a geography professor at McGill University and a member of the Far North panel.
“We have a moral obligation to ensure that we develop the North in a way that anticipates and mitigates against those kinds of emissions due to land-use change. The solution is, basically, keep it in the ground.”