This consultation was open from:
October 10, 2023
to November 24, 2023
The Ministry of Mines is seeking feedback on its proposed approach to regulating the recovery of minerals from tailings and other mine wastes in Ontario. This approach would be captured in a new regulation under the Mining Act, allowing Sections 152.1-152.7 of the Mining Act to come into force.
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In recent years, modern mining and mineral processing technologies have unlocked potential economic value from materials previously viewed as wastes. The shifting demands for minerals to support the low carbon economy have created the economic conditions to support investments in the recovery of minerals from mining wastes.
Through the Supporting People and Business Act, 2021, the Ontario government introduced amendments to the Mining Act to enable a new regulatory pathway for the recovery of minerals from mining wastes, described as “Recovery and Remediation” under Part VII of the Mining Act. These amendments are currently unproclaimed. Once proclaimed, these amendments would eliminate the need for an applicant to file a closure plan to undertake the proposed recovery of minerals.
Specifically, the Mining Act was amended to:
- require applicants for a recovery permit to submit an application to the Ministry of Mines (the Ministry) that conforms to prescribed requirements and describes the proposed recovery activity, as well as including a proposed remediation plan that satisfies all statutory requirements and any additional requirements that may be prescribed,
- provide the Minister with the authority to issue a permit and impose terms and conditions, and provides factors that must be considered by the Minister while doing so (including, among other things, the purpose of the Mining Act and whether the Crown’s duty to consult has been met, as well as other factors that may be prescribed)
- provide the Minister with discretion to determine the amount of financial assurance required, if any
- provide the Minister with additional order-making authority such as stop-work, remedial or preventative orders at current operating, closed or abandoned mine sites where a recovery permit has been issued
These amendments received Royal Assent on December 2, 2021, but will not come into effect until the sections are proclaimed into force. Through Bill 71 - Building More Mines Act, 2023, further amendments were made to the unproclaimed portion of the legislation to remove ambiguity and increase certainty on the requirements for a recovery permit. These provisions also remain unproclaimed.
As noted above, the amendments deferred certain issues to “prescribed requirements”, meaning requirements set out in a future regulation. The Ministry is now preparing this draft regulation as well as the related elements of a regulatory framework (such as, among other things, an application form, a set of practices intended to ensure sufficient consultation, and an administrative approach to evaluating and processing applications).
The Ministry is seeking input on the components of the draft regulatory framework. The details of the proposal are provided in the attached appendix. Among other things, specific topics discussed in the appendix include proposals to:
- Develop an application form which requires applicants to submit sufficient information about the project to support informed decisions about the applications.
- Develop an approach for Aboriginal consultation to meet the Crown’s duty to consult, where it arises, that is tailored to the potential impacts from the project on Aboriginal and treaty rights.
- Include in the application form itself a template for a recovery and remediation plan, which would include sections that relate to the requirements listed in the legislation.
- Develop an administrative approach to processing applications, including mandatory and project-specific terms and conditions and financial assurance.
The Ministry is also considering whether certifications from qualified persons should play a role in the permitting process, and if so, to what extent.
The Ministry anticipates the implementation of this regulatory framework would support the rethinking of mine wastes, reduce regulatory barriers and promote economic development opportunities to facilitate exploration, testing and reprocessing tailings or other waste materials resulting from mining. This would allow further remediation of the environment, public health and safety at mine sites (including inactive and abandoned sites) reducing liabilities associated with mine tailings and waste storage.
Your feedback is welcome on the proposals described in the appendix. The Ministry is also open to hearing input on other topics if respondents wish. Your feedback will inform the Ministry as staff finalize the regulations to support the implementation of the new framework for the recovery of minerals from mine waste.
The proposed regulation to support the recovery of minerals in Ontario is under development. The final impact of the regulation will not be known until it is developed. The assessment of impact on regulated entities will be informed by the responses to these consultations, where applicable.
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