Not everyone realizes that the products of mining are all around us, all the time: in medicine, in transportation, in electronics, in consumer goods. In that regard, the value of mining in the everyday lives of all Ontarians cannot be overstated.
In addition, the minerals sector is a major contributor to Ontario’s economy. Ontario leads the country in the production of non-fuel minerals, such as nickel, gold and copper, and is a major player in the world. In 2008, Ontario’s mineral production was valued at $9.6 billion, with the province’s 27 metal mines generating $6.6 billion for the economy.
The McGuinty government remains wholly committed to building on the industry’s status as a world leader in mineral exploration and development, while it continues to promote sustainable mineral resource practices for the benefit of all Ontarians.
At the end of April, it was my pleasure to introduce to the Legislature proposed ground-breaking changes to Ontario’s Mining Act.
Our government’s proposed legislation aims to promote balanced development that benefits all Ontarians. It also seeks to modernize the way mining companies and prospectors stake and explore their claims to be more respectful of both private landowners and Aboriginal communities.
Included in our work to amend the Mining Act is a proposal to implement map staking. This would be a change from the current system of claim staking, whereby mining companies and prospectors enter onto land to mark their claims.
The phased implementation of map staking over a period of three to five years would start with a paper-based system in southern Ontario, then move to an online electronic system across the Province. This modern, computer-based system of staking would reduce even further the already low impact of ground staking.
I believe that there are several advantages to map staking, which other mining jurisdictions in Canada have already discovered:
• Map staking would support the development of better, more productive relations with private landholders and Aboriginal communities by removing a major source of friction, as prospectors would not have to disturb the land to stake their claims.
• It would also provide a more level playing field than ground staking since it would allow anyone with a prospector’s license, from anywhere in the province, to stake a claim on land that is open for staking. This means that independent prospectors and junior exploration companies would have access to land that was otherwise too difficult or costly to stake.
• Map staking is a 21st century approach that would be faster and more efficient for companies, allowing them to focus more of their resources and energies on the exploration stages. This would encourage the growth of good-quality jobs and expand opportunities for service provision locally.
• And it would support better government by allowing quicker, more accurate administration.
Experience in British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland has shown that the introduction of map staking has had minimal impact on businesses whose focus was on traditional ground staking, with many companies shifting their focus from contract staking to exploration support services.
Should our Mining Act proposals be passed, ongoing consultation and the experience of other jurisdictions will help guide our efforts to ensure that we develop a map staking system that’s right for Ontario.
Our government appreciates that the staking of a mining claim represents a calculated risk on the part of entrepreneurs who have carried out significant research. It’s worthwhile remembering that only one exploration project in about 10,000 ever becomes a mine.
Most of all, we are committed to supporting a vibrant Ontario minerals industry that, in turn, will help many of our communities realize their economic and social aspirations, and continue to benefit Ontarians every day.