This consultation was open from:
September 8, 2023
to October 9, 2023
Through the Building More Mines Act, 2023, the Ministry of Mines (“Ministry") sought public comment during Spring 2023 on proposals to make changes to the Mining Act and its associated regulations. The Ministry is now seeking feedback on refined proposals for the regulatory amendments necessary to support the goals of the legislative amendments.
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Building More Mines Act, 2023, (Bill 71) received Royal Assent on May 18, 2023, resulting in new statutory authorities under the Mining Act. Many of these new authorities can only be brought into force once supporting regulations have been developed and implemented.
The Ministry previously sought public comment from March 9 to April 23, 2023, on proposed approaches to aspects of the regulatory amendments:
After consideration of what was heard from all parties and developing the proposals further, the Ministry is providing additional details on the proposed regulatory amendments.
The intended outcome of these proposed regulatory changes is to create a modern regulatory framework for mineral exploration and development that is flexible, encourages innovation, decreases regulatory overlap, and relies on technical expertise of qualified persons and industry professionals. Changes are intended to drive investment and resource development in Ontario’s mining sector, which is expected to benefit northern and Indigenous communities, and reduce red tape while maintaining public health and safety, respecting the environment and Aboriginal and treaty rights.
The majority of the proposed regulatory changes would affect Ontario Regulation 240/00 – Advanced Exploration, Mine Development and Closure (the “Regulation”) under the Mining Act. This is the regulation that deals with closure plans for advanced exploration and mine development projects. It also currently contains the Mine Rehabilitation Code (the “Code”), which is a document that sets standards and procedures for mine rehabilitation in Ontario.
In addition to the proposed changes to the Regulation and Code, additional changes would be required to other affected regulations. These consequential regulatory changes are expected to be administrative in nature and are not expected to have any environmental impacts. The potentially affected regulations are described in more detail below.
Appendix A – Proposed Regulatory Amendments provides further details on the Ministry’s proposal from March 9, 2023 and is the source document the Ministry is seeking comments on. The regulatory framework remains in development as the Ministry continues to seek input on these proposed regulatory changes.
Please note, the Ministry is no longer proceeding with the concept of making amendments to the Regulation and Code to automatically allow delayed delivery of baseline studies, as had been previously proposed in the spring 2023 Environmental Registry of Ontario posting: https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-6750.
The Ministry anticipates the proposed regulatory amendments would lead to a clearer, more streamlined process for mining project proponents.
It is important to note that none of this streamlining would affect the Crown’s obligations to consult with Aboriginal communities whose Aboriginal and treaty rights may be adversely impacted by mining activities.
It is important to note that, while many of these proposed regulatory amendments under the Mining Act are intended to provide flexibility for project proponents, this does not mean that the rules would be less stringent. Proponents are still required to meet standards for mine rehabilitation and ensure the province has received appropriate financial assurance prior to the construction of mine features.
The Ministry anticipates that the environmental implications of the proposed changes to the Regulation should be neutral.
Eliminating Ministry technical review is offset by strengthening the certification structure, removing gaps in certified items where appropriate, and defining a “qualified person” such that it incorporates appropriate training, experience, education, and expertise (and, where a professional designation is involved, accountability through the qualified person’s regulatory requirements associated with that profession).
Allowing qualified persons to certify alternative measures, instead of requiring an exemption from a prescribed requirement, will be supported by requiring that the Closure Plan contain an itemized description of alternative measures, the nature of the variance, and the rationale for how it meets or exceeds the objective of the applicable Part of the Code, with a qualified person also certifying that it meets or exceeds the applicable objective. In addition, the ministry is proposing to strengthen the objective statements in the Code.
As a result of the Ministry’s review of the Code and the proposed changes to the definition of “rehabilitate” in the Building More Mines Act, 2023, it may be more likely that some site infrastructure remains on mine sites after the mining activity is done. However, in the proposed approach, the intent is to create a regulatory framework that allows infrastructure to remain only in circumstances where it is safe and appropriate to do so (e.g., given the nature of the site; the purpose of the Mining Act; and the ministry’s commitment to satisfy the duty to consult, where it arises). It also may be more frequent for passive revegetation to occur on some parts of a site, although the requirement for self-sustaining vegetative growth prior to becoming closed out still remains.
The environmental implications associated with the proposed exclusion of battery mineral processing facilities from the definition of “mine” is anticipated to also be neutral; the environmental impacts of the operations of these facilities are currently regulated by other ministries and agencies. These facilities are generally the same as other manufacturing facilities which are not regulated under the Mining Act, and the closure planning requirements established under the Mining Act, its regulation and Code are not necessary to achieve environmental protection goals.
Any environmental implications associated with a proposed request for a Conditional Filing Order can be mitigated through the inclusion of appropriate terms and conditions on any conditional filing order that is issued.
Regarding the proposed consequential regulatory amendments, these are expected to be administrative in nature and are not expected to have environmental impacts.
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