New rules, new tools in Ontario’s Mining Act – by Rick Bartolucci (Northern Miner – October 22-28, 2012)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

Rick Bartolucci is Ontario’s minister of Northern Development and Mines.

In 2006, the Ontario government introduced its first-ever Mineral Development Strategy, which provided the foundation for the sustainable management and stewardship of Ontario’s mineral resources.

Our government’s goal was to reinforce the province’s international position as a leading mining jurisdiction and promote responsible mineral development for the benefit of all Ontarians. Our modernized Mining Act continues to support these aims.

Four years of wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders, provincial and territorial organizations, tribal councils and Aboriginal leaders has resulted in legislation and regulations that deliver on the government’s commitment to modernize mineral exploration and development in the province.

Ontario wants to ensure its mining industry remains strong and that the rights and interests of Aboriginal groups and private landowners are properly addressed throughout the mining sequence.

That’s why we’ve worked with our stakeholders and Aboriginal partners to make changes to the act that provide clear rules to help reduce the impact of mineral exploration activities on the environment, and make Aboriginal consultation a cornerstone of mineral exploration and mine-closure.

Beginning Nov. 1, 2012, new rules and tools under the act will help increase awareness of the changes, establish criteria for protecting Aboriginal cultural sites from mineral staking and exploration activities, and introduce a system of exploration plans and permits to ensure appropriate notification and consultation with Aboriginal communities and private landowners potentially affected by proposed mineral exploration activities.

The province has also developed comprehensive policies that provide clear, progressive guidance around Aboriginal consultation as it relates to mineral exploration and development activities.

As we move forward with implementation, engaging with Aboriginal communities is key. That’s why we’ve made Aboriginal capacity-building a significant part of our modernization initiative and have been working hard to carry out workshops and training sessions in Aboriginal communities to increase awareness of exploration and mining methods, and what the Mining Act amendments entail.

We’re also supporting Aboriginal Mineral Advisory positions in communities, tribal councils and other Aboriginal organizations that are expected to receive a high volume of exploration plans and permits. Ontario aims to ensure that Aboriginal communities and the mining industry have the tools they need to work together, and ensure mineral exploration and development activities are carried out responsibly.

These are important steps that balance the interests of the mineral industry, Aboriginal communities and private landowners. Through our modernized Mining Act, we will see Ontario communities benefit and our mining industry thrive for decades to come.

All those who may be affected by, interested in or required to comply with the new regulations are encouraged to visit the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’ website for more information, at: http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/en/mines-and-minerals/mining-act/mining-act-modernization

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