Proposed Building More Mines Act, 2023

ERO number
019-6715
Notice type
Act
Act
Mining Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of Mines
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
March 2, 2023 - April 16, 2023 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
March 2, 2023
to April 16, 2023

Decision summary

The Building More Mines Act, 2023 received Royal Assent on May 18, 2023.

Decision details

Through Bill 71, Building More Mines Act, 2023, the Ministry of Mines has made amendments to the Mining Act that are intended to ensure Ontario has a modern and competitive regime for mineral exploration and development. The amendments aim to reduce administrative burden, clarify requirements for rehabilitation and create regulatory efficiencies.

The improvements align with the purpose of the Mining Act which includes encouraging prospecting, registration of mining claims and exploration for the development of mineral resources, in a manner consistent with the recognition and affirmation of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights (including the duty to consult) and to minimize the impact of these activities on public health and safety and the environment. 

 The amendments include changes to:

· Closure Plans

· Recovery of Minerals Frameworks

· Decision-Making

The amendments to the Mining Act would take effect once the related regulations have been developed and filed.

Closure Plans

The amendments in the Building More Mines Act, 2023 will:

· Lay the necessary groundwork for anticipated regulatory amendments that would strengthen qualified persons’ certifications provided with closure plans, including establishing the concept of qualified persons in the Mining Act; this would eliminate the need for a ministry technical review.

· Allow the Minister to issue an order, on request from a proponent, that allows the deferral of at least one of the required elements of the closure plan, which may include terms and conditions determined by the Minister. This would be called a “conditional filing order”. In all cases there would be a condition in the order to meet the prescribed requirements at a time specified by the Minister.  The intent is to prevent the delay of mining projects where these studies / elements can reasonably be deferred without compromising the integrity of the closure plan; 

· Eliminate the need for a Notice of Material Change for minor site alterations (non-material) and allow certain administrative changes (e.g., the form of financial assurance or change in ownership) to be made to closure plans without requiring a closure plan amendment (i.e., deemed amendments);

· Codify the practice of allowing phased Financial Assurance in the legislative framework to create a simpler and clearer mechanism for proponents to submit phased Financial Assurance tied to a project’s construction of new mining features; and 

· Amend the definition of “rehabilitate” and the related definition of “protective measures” to support the Minister’s ability to allow an alternate use or condition or feature to remain on-site post-closure (e.g., infrastructure), and to give greater flexibility and certainty to industry by allowing alternate rehabilitation measures and post-closure land uses.

Recovery of Minerals Framework

The amendments in the Building More Mines Act, 2023 will replace the requirement to “improve” the land subject to the recovery permit with a requirement that the condition of the land be “comparable to or better than” it was before the recovery activity. 

Decision-Making

The amendments in the Building More Mines Act, 2023 will:

· Remove the statutory role of the Director of Mine Rehabilitation and vest its former decision-making authorities in the Minister; and    

Retain the statutory role of the Director of Exploration but provide the Minister with authority to exercise any power or function of the Director of Exploration. 

Comments received

Through the registry

52

By email

0

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Consultations on the proposed changes from Bill 71 through the ERO took place from March 2nd, 2023, to April 16th, 2023 (45 days). In total, 53 comments were posted via the EBR. Comments were received from the public, Indigenous organizations, advocacy groups, business, and industry.

The comments received can be grouped into the following three proposed amendments:

1.    Closure Plans

2.    Recovery of Minerals Framework

3.    Decision-making

 

1. Closure Plans

Comments from individuals and organizations regarding closure plans were concerned that the changes to closure plan filling will remove ministry oversight and reduce standards for closure planning which would result in negative impacts on the environment. Respondents also expressed concern that the changes to filing closure plans through phased financial assurance could result in increased financial liabilities for the province. Additionally, respondents expressed concern that the government will not meet its obligations regarding the duty to consult with Indigenous peoples.

Comments submitted by proponents strongly supported the changes to closure plans. They were encouraged by the governments efforts to allow for flexibility when filing closure plans and making amendments to a closure plan after they are filed.

Response: The changes to closure planning align with the purpose of the Mining Act which includes encouraging prospecting, registration of mining claims and exploration for the development of mineral resources, in a manner consistent with the recognition and affirmation of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights (including the duty to consult) and to minimize the impact of these activities on public health and safety and the environment.  

While the ministry will no longer be conducting technical reviews of closure plans prior to filing, the plans will be certified by Qualified Persons where appropriate.  The Ministry will ensure certifications are provided by appropriately qualified individuals.

Amending the Mining Act to update the process of providing financial assurance will allow proponents to submit financial assurance associated with their closure plan in phases to match the development/ construction schedule of the site. New mining features would not be constructed until the schedule and financial assurance was provided to the ministry.  If the proponent fails to comply with the required phasing, the Minister has the ability to require, in the prescribed manner, that the proponent promptly provide the outstanding financial assurance.

Consultation with First Nations will continue to occur where the duty to consult is triggered by closure plans and closure plan amendments.

 2. Recovery of Minerals Framework

Comments from individuals, organizations, and others expressed concern with replacing the requirement that the land be “improved” with a requirement that the land be made “comparable to or better than” the prior condition – in each case, with respect to one or both of public health and safety or the environment. Commenters believe this will result in mining proponents leaving the land in a worse state than it was originally.

Comments submitted by mining companies were in support of the changes to the recovery of minerals framework. Proponents indicated that these changes would significantly shorten the time it would take to complete projects.

 Response: During consultation, the government acknowledged that the phrasing in the Bill (with respect to one or both of public health and safety or the environment) was unclear and could be misinterpreted.  During Standing Committee review of the Bill, the provision in the Bill was amended to remove the ‘one or both’ framing. The government believes in prioritizing public health, safety, and the environment.

The amendments change the requirement from “improved” to requiring the land condition to be comparable or better after recovery and remediation activities, removing ambiguity around the term improved and providing greater flexibility for applicants.

 3. Decision-Making

Comments submitted by proponents welcomed the change to move decision-making from the Director of Mine Rehabilitation to the Minister. Proponents agreed that this will speed up decision-making while still ensuring the proper protections are taken.

Comments from individuals and organizations found the proposed changes to be concerning. Particularly, many commenters argued that moving the decision-making power from a government appointed official to a politically elected official could lead to political interference.  Additionally, there is concern that while the current Minister has a background in the mining field, not every Minister responsible for making these decisions may be an expert in mining and may lack the necessary expertise to inform their decisions.

Response: The changes to decision-making authority provide the Minister with the statutory authority to make decisions under Part VII of the Mining Act regarding mine rehabilitation or decisions related to early exploration. This will align Ontario’s decision-making authority with that of other provinces. Decisions made by the Minister must be consistent with the purpose of the Act and would take into account the same factors and considerations as the Director currently does.

Ministry staff would provide advice and make recommendations to the Minister for any decision the Minister makes, as is the existing practice for decisions where the Minister is already the specified decision maker. Additionally, the Minister would have the flexibility to delegate day-to-day decision-making to others within the Ministry using existing delegation powers. There already exist many instances within the Mining Act in which the Minister is the specified decision maker but has delegated those decisions to Ministry staff. 

Supporting materials

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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.

Ministry of Mines, Corporate Policy Secretariat
Address

99 Wellesley St W
B-312
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3
Canada

Office phone number
Mines and Minerals Division
Address

933 Ramsey Lake Rd
Willet Green Miller Ctr 2nd Flr
Sudbury, ON
P3E 6B5
Canada

Office phone number

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Mineral Development Office (Timmins)
Address

5520 Highway 101 E Highway
PO Box 3060
South Porcupine Ontario, ON
P0N 1H0
Canada

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-6715
Notice type
Act
Act
Mining Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of Mines
Proposal posted

Comment period

March 2, 2023 - April 16, 2023 (45 days)

Proposal details

Purpose of the legislative amendments

The Ontario government is improving the Mining Act to create the conditions for companies to build mines more efficiently. Proposed amendments to the Mining Act demonstrate responsiveness to feedback received from industry, would reduce administrative burden and create efficiencies that cause project delays and cost overruns, and provide regulatory certainty to drive greater investment in Ontario’s economy.

Proposed improvements align with the purpose of the Mining Act which includes encouraging prospecting, registration of mining claims and exploration for the development of mineral resources, in a manner consistent with the recognition and affirmation of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights (including the duty to consult) and to minimize the impact of these activities on public health and safety and the environment.

Bill 71, Building More Mines Act, 2023, if passed, would make several amendments to the Mining Act including changes related to closure plans, recovery permits, and statutory decision-making authorities. More detail on each of these areas follows.

Closure plans

Part VII of the Mining Act requires that proponents (mining companies) have a filed Closure Plan before starting advanced exploration or mine production. A closure plan describes the measures that the proponent will take during the life cycle of the mine to rehabilitate the mine site. Currently, “rehabilitate” means to take measures so that the use or condition of the site is restored to its former use or condition, or is made suitable for a use that the director sees fit.

The proposed amendments in the Bill would:

  • Lay the necessary groundwork for anticipated regulatory amendments that would strengthen qualified persons certifications provided with closure plans, including establishing the concept of qualified persons in the Mining Act: this would eliminate the need for a ministry technical review as they would be fully certified by qualified persons.
  • Allow the Minister to issue an order, on request from a proponent, that allows the deferral of at least one of the required elements of the closure plan, which may include terms and conditions determined by the Minister. This would be called a “conditional filing order”. In all cases there would be a condition in the order to meet the prescribed requirements at a time specified by the Minister. The intent is to prevent the delay of mining projects where these studies / elements can reasonably be deferred without compromising the integrity of the closure plan.
  • Eliminate the need for a Notice of Material Change for minor site alterations (non-material) and allow certain administrative changes (e.g., the form of financial assurance or change in ownership) to be made to closure plans without requiring a closure plan amendment; (i.e. deemed amendments);
  • Codify the practice of allowing phased Financial Assurance in the legislative framework to create a simpler and clearer mechanism for proponents to submit phased Financial Assurance tied to a project’s construction of new mining features.
  • Amend the definition of “rehabilitate” and the related definition of “protective measures” to support the Minister’s ability to allow an alternate use or condition or feature to remain on-site post-closure (e.g. infrastructure), and to give greater flexibility and certainty to industry by allowing alternate rehabilitation measures and post-closure land uses.

Recovery of minerals framework

“Recovery permits” are permits to recover minerals or mineral-bearing substances from tailings and other mine wastes. The legislative framework for recovery permits was created through previous amendments to the Mining Act, but these amendments are not yet in force.

The current provisions in the Mining Act for recovery permits require that the condition of lands subject to a mineral recovery permit be improved (with respect to one or both of public health and safety or the environment) after the recovery and remediation activity.

The proposed amendments in the Bill would replace the requirement to “improve” the land subject to the recovery permit with a requirement that the condition of the land be “comparable to or better than” it was before the recovery activity.

Decision-making

Currently the Minister does not have statutory authority to make certain decisions under Part VII of the Mining Act regarding mine rehabilitation (e.g. decisions to file closure plans) or decisions related to early exploration. These decision-making authorities are currently vested in the Director of Mine Rehabilitation and Director of Exploration respectively. The Director of Mine Rehabilitation and Director of Exploration are Ministry employees, appointed to these positions by the Minister.

The amendments in the Bill would:

  • Remove the statutory role of the Director of Mine Rehabilitation and vest its former decision-making authorities in the Minister.
  • Retain the statutory role of the Director of Exploration but provide the Minister with authority to exercise any power or function of the Director of Exploration.

There are also clerical and housekeeping changes to modernize language and to update cross-references and section numbering.

There are no anticipated environmental impacts as a result of these proposed changes to the Mining Act.

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.

Ministry of Mines, Corporate Policy Secretariat
Address

99 Wellesley St W
B-312
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3
Canada

Office phone number
Mines and Minerals Division
Address

933 Ramsey Lake Rd
Willet Green Miller Ctr 2nd Flr
Sudbury, ON
P3E 6B5
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from March 2, 2023
to April 16, 2023

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