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.
March 18, 2022
This consultation was open from:
October 7, 2021
to December 6, 2021
We are considering regulatory amendments and supporting policy to facilitate projects that seek to recover minerals from mining waste. These initiatives would improve public health and safety and the environment while creating economic opportunities.
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.
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Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.
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