Find out why this Environment alumnus is enemy #1 for misbehaving mining companies.

Ramsey Hart leans against a free in a woody forest

A life of activism prepared Ramsey Hart for his latest role as mining company watchdog.

Though he doesn’t take it personally, most mining companies would rather that Ramsey Hart simply did not exist. “That’s true in most, if not all cases,” admits the Environment and Resource Studies alumnus (’97).

Hart works for MiningWatch Canada, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reforming mining laws and policies and educating the public about the activities of the largest mining concerns. When mining companies act irresponsibly, it is his job to find out what they’ve done, and let the public know.

Hart understands that mining and resource extraction are an important part of the global economy – especially in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn. But no matter what the situation responsible governance must be used to ensure the health of local communities and the planet.  

As Canada Programs Director, he spends most days fielding mining governance inquiries from the media and local communities concerned about resource extraction projects in their region. “Today I had a question about cyanide and cyanide management in mines. It was a staff person in a First Nation in the Northwest Territories,” says Hart. “We are kind of the go-to organization for a different slant on the mining industry.”  

Hart’s position at the Ottawa-based organization was not the result of a carefully calculated career arc, but rather a step in the progression of a life devoted to world travel, social justice and ecological responsibility.

Having graduated from University of Waterloo, and travelling extensively in Canada and South America, Hart realized that many decisions made in the boardrooms of giant mining companies were having a deleterious effect on the sustainability of the communities he was visiting.

At first he became active on the ground, organizing people to voice these concerns. But when a full-time position with MiningWatch opened up in 2008, he realized he had an opportunity to amplify those voices and make a real difference in the way mining operations are governed.

One point of pride for Hart is that these voices are accurate and truthful – something he says the mining industry can’t always claim. “MiningWatch takes great pride in the accuracy and depth of our work. If you can find something that is factually incorrect we will do our utmost to verify it and correct it. Of course perspectives may differ about some facts or the values that go into the conclusion one reaches,” he says diplomatically.

Specifically the major mining companies might be the ones with the differing perspective. “The mining industry has a very powerful presence within governments and that presence is disproportionate to the economic and social role that the industry plays,” explains Hart. “The industry does have an important role in Canada, but there should be independent voices in the discussion.”