Ontario Takes Bold Steps To Modernize Mining Act



    
    McGuinty Government To Introduce Innovative, Balanced Legislation For A
    Sustainable Mining Future
    

    TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ -

    NEWS

    Proposed changes to Ontario's Mining Act would see significant strides in
Aboriginal consultation, provide clear rules for industry and reduce the
impact of mineral exploration on the environment.
    The proposed legislation, to be introduced later today, promotes balanced
development that benefits all Ontarians. If passed, it would modernize the way
companies stake and explore their claims to be more respectful of private land
owners and Aboriginal communities. At the same time, it would support a
vibrant minerals industry that would help many communities realize their
economic and social aspirations.
    The proposed legislation includes a number of ground-breaking provisions,
which would make Ontario a national leader in mineral resource stewardship,
including:

    
    -  Incorporating Aboriginal consultation in mining legislation and
       regulations
    -  Requiring awareness training to obtain a prospector's licence, and
    -  Introduction of a dispute-resolution process for Aboriginal-related
       issues in mining.
    

    If the legislation is passed, Ontario will begin putting new rules in
place later this year.

    QUOTES

    "This proposed legislation takes bold steps toward a modern, innovative
Mining Act that would balance all of our respective interests, benefit Ontario
communities and support a vibrant Ontario minerals industry."
    - Michael Gravelle, Northern Development and Mines Minister

    
    QUICK FACTS
    -  Mining is Canada's largest private sector employer of Aboriginal
       people.
    -  Mining provides Ontario with a trade surplus of about $3.3 billion
       annually.
    -  The 2009 Ontario Budget committed $40 million over three years for
       initiatives to support Mining Act modernization.

    LEARN MORE

    About the modernization of Ontario's Mining Act
    (http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/miningact/miningact_e.asp)

    About the mineral industry in Ontario
    (http://webx.newswire.ca/click/?id=d1d0b9fe462c4b1)

    About Ontario's approach to Aboriginal affairs
(http://www.aboriginalaffairs.gov.on.ca/english/policy/ontarios_approach.asp)

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    BACKGROUNDER
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                       MODERNIZING ONTARIO'S MINING ACT
    

    Proposed legislation to modernize Ontario's Mining Act builds on the
commitment announced last July - as part of the Far North Planning initiative 
(http://webx.newswire.ca/click/?id=a131c4c58336ff8) to find new approaches to
mineral exploration that would be more respectful of Aboriginal communities
and private land holders.
    During six months of consultations, more than 1,000 people and groups
participated in public and stakeholder sessions across the province. Input was
also received through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry. The Ministry
of Northern Development and Mines also carried out comprehensive Aboriginal
consultations to ensure the broadest possible Aboriginal participation and
input. In total, approximately 100 First Nation communities, as well as
Aboriginal organizations participated in some manner.
    If the legislation is passed, there would be additional opportunities for
input over the coming months as regulations are developed.

    
    HIGHLIGHTS:

    For Aboriginal Communities
    

    Ontario would become the first jurisdiction in Canada to expressly
recognize Aboriginal and treaty rights in its mining legislation, and enable a
dispute resolution process for Aboriginal-related mining issues through
regulation.
    Proposals would also address key concerns of Aboriginal communities.  For
instance, Ontario's modernization approach would include:

    
    -  Provisions for withdrawing significant Aboriginal cultural sites from
       claim staking;
    -  Notification of Aboriginal communities immediately after a claim is
       staked;
    -  Requirements for prospectors and companies to notify Aboriginal
       communities of plans for significant exploration activities within
       their traditional lands;
    -  Provisions to enable restrictions on prescribed prospecting and
       exploration activities;
    -  Introduction of a graduated approach to Aboriginal consultation, with
       the scope and degree tied to impact of proposed exploration
       activities. This approach would:
          -  Outline consultation requirements
          -  Require environmental rehabilitation
          -  Require exploration work plans or permits.
    

    The ministry will invite further input from First Nation communities and
Aboriginal organizations as Ontario develops regulations and implements the
changes.

    For Private Land Owners

    The proposed legislation would address conflicts that have arisen between
mineral exploration companies and surface rights holders who do not hold the
mineral rights on their lands. For instance, Ontario would:

    
    -  Withdraw mining rights in southern Ontario where surface rights are
       privately held, while respecting existing claims and leases.  In
       Northern Ontario, private land holders could apply for such
       withdrawals but granting withdrawals would first consider criteria
       such as mineral potential;

    -  Broaden the list of lands not open to staking;

    -  Require enhanced notification of private land owners, after claim-
       staking and prior to exploration;

    -  Introduce new exploration provisions such as a graduated regulatory
       regime for exploration;

    -  Introduce a map staking system that would eliminate the need for
       prospectors to enter onto property to stake mining claims. Map staking
       would be phased in beginning in southern Ontario.
    

    In addition, owners of land originally patented for mining purposes, but
not currently being used for mining purposes, would be able to apply for an
exemption from mining land tax.
    Lands with private surface rights and Crown mineral rights that are open
for staking comprise only 1.4 per cent of southern Ontario's landmass, and
only 0.4 per cent of Northern Ontario's landmass.

    For the Mineral Industry

    Ontario's proposed legislation would increase clarity for the mineral
industry by outlining requirements for consultation -- and accommodation as
appropriate -- with Aboriginal communities, while maintaining fair and
competitive access to mineral tenure.
    It includes a graduated regulatory scheme for early exploration, with
exploration plans required for lower impact activities and exploration permits
required for activities with higher impact. Regulations would provide the
details for exploration plans and permits, including requirements for
rehabilitation; Aboriginal consultation and working on private surface rights.
    The proposed legislation would increase certainty for the industry by
setting out a clear framework for the responsible management and sustainable
development of Ontario's mineral resources.
    It would also foster early engagement and enhanced relationships between
Aboriginal communities and companies.
    Ontario would be the first Canadian jurisdiction to enable a dispute
resolution process for Aboriginal-related mining issues in its mining
legislation.

    Environmental Considerations

    Proposed legislation responds to calls for greater consideration for the
environment.
    It would reduce impacts to the environment by implementing a new
graduated regulatory scheme for early exploration activities to include
rehabilitation requirements.
    It would embed in legislation that no new mine opening can occur in the
Far North unless there is an approved community-based land use plan.
    The phased introduction of map staking across the province would
eliminate the minimal impact of ground staking.
    Compliance with the new requirements would be encouraged through
increases to maximum penalties for offences against the Act.

    
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    BACKROUNDER
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                              SUPPORTIVE QUOTES
    

    "Working together with our Aboriginal partners has helped contribute
significantly to improving the Mining Act. By listening to our partners we can
help build stronger Aboriginal communities, making for a stronger Ontario."
    - Brad Duguid, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

    "Ontario's new collaborative approach to developing legislation and
public policy in Ontario is certainly innovative. It is respectful to the
recognition of First Nations rights and indicative of Ontario's commitment to
working with First Nations on a government-to-government basis."
    - Grand Council Chief John Beaucage,

    Leader of the 42-member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation
    "Industry and other stakeholders have worked together to suggest changes
to modernize the Mining Act. As explorationists we believe these changes will
provide certainty around access to land, which will allow us to attract
investment to Ontario."
    - Garry Clark, Executive Director, Ontario Prospectors Association

    "Goldcorp supports Minister Gravelle in his efforts to modernize
Ontario's Mining Act, and Government's support for a healthy, vibrant mining
industry in Ontario which Goldcorp believes is in the interests of all
Ontarians."
    - George R. Burns, Vice-President, Canada and the United States, Goldcorp
    Inc.

    "The proposed legislation is an important step towards reconciling
long-standing conflicts between the interests of Aboriginal communities,
conservationists and the mining sector. It provides important tools for
proactive planning and dispute resolution that will help strike a balance
between ecological and cultural priorities and economic development."
    - Larry Innes, Executive Director, Canadian Boreal Initiative

    
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For further information:

For further information: Anne-Marie Flanagan, MNDM Minister's Office,
(416) 327-0655

Organization Profile

Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry

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