Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound — Muskoka, is challenging amendments to Ontario’s Mining Act with just two weeks left before they are fully implemented by the province.
Miller is warning provincial officials that the new detailed plans required by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines will create significant delays for Ontario mining companies, costing them millions of dollars, while drowning the province in red tape.
Historically, Canadian mining companies have been able to drill their mining claims without provincial permission. As of April 1, 2013, companies will need to submit details of almost every stage of their exploration plans and consult with affected First Nations.
“By forcing prospectors to now file detailed plans for activities as simple as flipping stones and driving stakes, the regulatory burden is increasing on this critical first step in the mining process,” said Miller, speaking at Queen’s Park on March 7, 2013. “When these amendments were passed, the current government announced they would modernize the system and promised to bring the Mining Act into the 21st century. Judging by the response so far, it sounds more like a step back.”
The amendments detail how the broader principles in the revised Act will work in practice. In 2009, the present amendments to the Mining Act were passed by the Ontario Legislature through Bill 173 - An Act to Amend the Mining Act. Those amendments took effect in November, 2012, and will be implemented fully by April 1, 2013. (Click here to read 2009 EHScompliance.ca coverage of Bill 173.)
Investments in Ontario mineral exploration reached a record $1 billion in 2011 and accounted for 26 per cent of mining industry spending in Canada, according to the province’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
In the Ontario Legislature, Miller shared the story of Pioneer Coal owner John Chisholm, who says the new system is bound to cripple mining companies. Miller said Chisholm lost three “precious weeks” of coal exploration because his permit was delayed by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’ online system.
“[The ministry] would not allow the application to be couriered, because the new process is to be online-only,” said Miller, relaying Chisholm’s plight.
Ontario has more than 600 active mineral exploration projects, many owned by so-called “juniors” that operate by raising funds just in time to fund exploration work. Miller is warning that they will be casualties under the new system.
“This isn’t just costing the developers money,” says Miller. “It is costing Ontario jobs — jobs that could be created by new discoveries, by new mines opening and the prosperity that follows new developments into local communities.”
This news item first appeared in EcoLog News. To learn how to subscribe, visit www.ecolog.com