Ontario's New Mining Act
The new Ontario Mining Act is the product of an extensive consultation process by which the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry invited public, stakeholder and Aboriginal community input into the drafting of Bill 173.
Some of the Bill's provisions came into effect with royal assent on October 28, 2009, but most will be proclaimed once the regulations are developed. New provisions that are now in effect include:
- Automatic withdrawal of Crown mineral rights under privately held surface rights in Southern Ontario
- A clause in all leases and lease renewals highlighting Section 35 of the Constitution Act regarding Aboriginal treaty rights
- The ability to replace a lost or stolen prospector's licence without requiring an affidavit; a significant benefit in areas such as First Nations and remote communities where no Commissioner is available and
- Provisions for the streamlining of some administrative processes.
Different sections of the Act will be proclaimed once the relevant details are developed. For example, paper staking in Southern Ontario and the withdrawal of Crown-held mineral rights under privately held surface rights in Northern Ontario should be in place within the first year. Sections related to exploration plans and permitting and the awareness program for prospectors require further consultation to develop the appropriate regulations and allow for a change in ministry business processes, which may take two to three years. Map staking, which requires an integrated information technology solution, will be introduced over three to five years.
Further information is available on the ministry's Mining Act Modernization web site.
During six months of consultations, more than 1,000 people participated in public and stakeholder sessions across the province. Input was also received through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry. The ministry also carried out comprehensive consultations to ensure the broadest possible cross-section of Aboriginal participation and input. In addition, a comprehensive review was undertaken by the Standing Committee on General Government before an amended Bill was passed by the Legislature.
This new phase of consultation runs through to May 2010. Interested members of the general public, industry and Aboriginal communities will be asked to provide their input through upcoming workshops and focus groups, as well as in written submissions. The ministry will also be seeking input through Ontario's Environmental (Environmental Bill of Rights/EBR) Registry.