Recovery of Minerals

ERO number
Notice type
Mining Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of Mines
Notice stage
Decision Updated
Decision posted
Comment period
October 7, 2021 - December 6, 2021 (60 days) Closed
Last updated

Update Announcement

Three comments were received via the environmental registry regarding this policy proposal. The Ministry is working on supporting regulations and policy for the mineral recovery regime. Once available, further information will be provided for public consultation.

This consultation was open from:
October 7, 2021
to December 6, 2021

Decision summary

The Ministry received and considered public comments on the preliminary approach for regulations that are needed to bring the Recovery of Minerals legislative framework into force. The Ministry is now collecting public comment on the more fully developed proposals.

Decision details

Through the Supporting People and Businesses Act, 2021 the Ministry of Mines made amendments to the Mining Act that are intended to facilitate the recovery of valuable minerals from mining wastes while improving public health and safety and the environment, in a manner consistent with the recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal and treaty rights provided in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the duty to consult. Approvals under this framework will be granted through “recovery permits”, instead of the closure plan process under Part VII of the Mining Act. The legislative changes to enable the Recovery of Minerals regime will be proclaimed into force at the same time the associated regulations come into effect. The Ministry is now looking to fully develop a regulatory regime related to recovery of minerals including the program framework and draft regulatory amendments. Towards the development of these regulations, in an ERO posting from October 7, 2021, to December 6, 2021, the Ministry sought public comment on Ontario’s preliminary approach to some components of this regulatory framework.

This included:

  • consideration for how applicant’s activities would demonstrate net benefit to public health and safety or the environment
  • the contents of a Recovery and Remediation Plan
  • Aboriginal consultation
  • terms and conditions of a recovery permit
  • financial assurance

The Ministry has considered the public comments provided to date and took them into account when developing proposals to amend relevant regulations under the Mining Act. The Ministry is now collecting public comments on these more fully developed proposals (

Comments received

Through the registry


By email


By mail

View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Comments were received from the public and industry and have been summarized below.

Summary of comments and ministry responses

One commentator expressed interest in the Ministry’s Environmental Values Statement and information on how the requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights are integrated in the Ministry’s decision-making.

Response: The Ministry’s Statement of Environmental Values is publicly available and outlines its commitment to the environment and promoting a strong, safe and sustainable minerals industry by providing a predictable and efficient regulatory regime, generating valuable geological information, supporting Aboriginal consultation, and ensuring safe, environmentally sound mineral development and rehabilitation.

Another commentator noted that cyanide be permitted for use in gold tailings reclamation projects, especially as technology is readily available to eliminate any short-term concerns with cyanide toxicity. Since cyanide degrades in natural conditions, short term use at tailings sites would have no long-term impact on environment.

Response: The Ministry recognizes that mineral recovery may involve novel technologies. As a result, the approach the Ministry is considering would focus on the potential impacts and results of recovery rather than identifying specific processes for recovery. This would support flexibility and permit the adoption of novel technologies as they develop.

Another commentator sought clarity on several components of the proposal, including:

  • the terms used to describe the materials from which minerals would be recovered
  • how novel technologies and the proprietary information surrounding them would be considered in a recovery and remediation plan
  • the holder of liability when minerals are being recovered on a mine site

Response: The Mining Act establishes the recovery permit system and uses the phrase "tailings and other waste materials". This was intended to be broad to ensure all waste products (e.g. waste rock piles) would be captured. The Ministry does not necessarily expect a recovery and remediation plan to disclose confidential information or trade secrets. A recovery and remediation plan would need to provide adequate information to demonstrate how the land would be remediated to ensure protection of the environment, and public health and safety. The legal liabilities associated with a mine site on which a recovery permit activity is occurring will depend on the circumstances of any given scenario, but it is notable that a recovery permit does not exempt the permit holder from legal and regulatory obligations under other statutes, and that the issuance of a recovery permit does not constitute a “contrary intention” for the purposes of subsection 153.3 of the Mining Act.

In addition, the commentor notes that baseline studies for recovery projects are a challenge, especially when considering the different types of mine sites (i.e., active mine site versus an orphaned mine site); that requirements for a remediation plan should focus on the outcomes rather than specific remediation processes as this would better address the specifics of each site; and that recovery projects should seek to holistically reprocess and remediate sites, for example seeking innovative ways to use tailings for carbon sequestration through carbon mineralization.

Response: A recovery and remediation plan is required to describe the project and set out how the land would be remediated such that condition of the land with respect to public health and safety and the environment is “comparable to or better than” it was before the recovery. The proponent would need to determine what information is necessary to demonstrate this, and baseline studies may not always be necessary. The Ministry is not considering specific standards for remediation; rather the requirement would be to bring a site to a state that is “comparable to or better than” it was before the activity; however, sufficient detail on processes is required in the plan for the Ministry to understand the nature and content of the remediation work that is proposed to be done.

Next steps

After consideration of what was heard during the initial consultation period and developing the proposals further, the Ministry is providing additional details and seeking further feedback on the proposed regulatory amendments which can be found at the following posting (

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Corporate Policy Secretariat

99 Wellesley St. West
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3

Office phone number

Connect with us


Sign up for notifications

We will send you email notifications with any updates related to this consultation. You can change your notification preferences anytime by visiting settings in your profile page.

Follow this notice

Original proposal

ERO number
Notice type
Mining Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

October 7, 2021 - December 6, 2021 (60 days)

Proposal details

This proposal discusses Ontario’s proposed policy approach to facilitate the recovery of minerals from mining wastes in Ontario, while improving public health and safety and the environment, and in a manner consistent with the recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal and treaty rights provided in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the duty to consult. 

Under the current Mining Act, a person cannot conduct extraction or reprocessing activities of tailings and mine waste for the purpose of sale, without filing a mine production closure plan covering all mine hazards on the site (beyond just the mine waste). The ministry is proposing amendments to the Mining Act which would create a regulatory pathway for these projects to proceed without a full closure plan for the whole mine site. Instead, there would be an application-based permitting regime, where the applicant could obtain a permit for the reprocessing/recycling activities on the tailings or waste rock.

The potential regulatory and policy framework discussed in the attached proposal supports the recently introduced amendments (described above) to the Mining Act, which, if passed, would enable a new regulatory pathway for these activities.

Specifically, as further discussed in the concurrent ERO posting regarding legislative amendments linked below, the Mining Act amendments would:

  • Require a person interested in recovering minerals from mine wastes to submit an application to the ministry that describes the proposed recovery activity, as well as the proposed remediation plan for the disturbance created by the activity and, to the extent applicable, the underlying mine wastes. Proponents would be required to demonstrate that the proposed project would result in a net benefit to public health and safety or the environment. 
  • Provide the Director of Mine Rehabilitation (the Director) with the authority to issue a permit (a recovery permit) and impose terms and conditions. 
  • Provide the Director with discretion to determine the form and amount of financial assurance required commensurate to the project. 
  • Require the Director to consider whether Aboriginal consultation has occurred in accordance with any prescribed requirements (before a recovery permit is issued). 
  • Provide the Director with additional order-making authority such as stop-work, remedial or preventative measures orders at current operating, closed or abandoned mine sites. 

If the proposed amendments to the Mining Act are passed, the ministry will then proceed to develop regulations and guidance in which many of the operational details of the regulatory framework for these recovery activities will be set out. 

The attached proposal summarizes the proposed amendments and indicates Ontario’s preliminary approach to some components of this regulatory framework.

In addition, the proposal includes discussion questions. Your answers to these questions could help guide our development of this regulatory framework and will inform us as we consider whether there is more Ontario can do to create opportunities related to mining wastes.


Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from October 7, 2021
to December 6, 2021

Connect with us