A way forward, or half a loaf?Published by MAC on 2007-07-26
A way forward, or half a loaf?
by Jeff Green, Frontenac News
26th July 2007
As Bedford Mining Alert members grilled provincial politicians on the mining act in the Bedford hall last week, Peter Griesbach sat silently at the back of the room.
It's not that Peter Griesbach is indifferent to the mining act. Since 2002 he has been a member of the Minister's Mining Act Advisory Committee (MMAAC) and is chair of a subcommittee of MMAAC that has prepared an amendment to the mining act. The amendment has just been posted for comment on the government's Environmental Registry.
The amended act would not unite surface and subsurface rights, nor would it allow surface rights owners to purchase the subsurface rights to their property, but it would increase the amount of land that is exempt from staking, and would also require more and fuller notification to surface rights owners before a prospector can enter their property.
Peter Griesbach got involved in mining rights in the same way many other people do - he found that someone had entered his property and cut down trees. He phoned the OPP to report a trespass, and was eventually referred to the Ministry of Northern Development of Mines, who informed him that his property had been staked.
"I never thought that unifying surface and sub-surface was do-able, and it was never on the table as we worked through changes to the sections of the mining act that dealing with staking on private property," Griesbach said.
Although he has been chairing the subcommittee that prepared the proposed amendments to the act, he is the only member of the community that is not either a ministry employee or a representative of mining or prospecting interests.
"This has not been a problem," he said, "because everyone had an interest in establishing rules that would not lead to conflicts in the field. The clearer the rules, the easier it will be for everyone."
Among proposed changes that affect Southern Ontario is the elimination of the physical staking of claims. Claims will be staked through interment mapping, thus eliminating the first instance of potential conflict with landowners. The prospector staking a claim will then have 60 days to notify the surface rights owner. As well, 30 days' notification will be required before a prospector can enter the surface rights owner's property, and the specific work plans will have to be given.
It is also proposed that the prospecting company will be required to repair any damages to surface lands that is caused by their activities.
Lots that are one hectare or less will be exempt from staking, as will a one-hectare ring around a residence on lots that are larger than one hectare.
Certain other kinds of property will be exempt from staking as well, if the amendment goes through, including: subdivisions, residential and cottage lots, railway lands, cropping and other farm operations, municipal lands such as parks, etc., and managed woodlots.
The proposed changes are described at a link from http://www.eco.on.ca/english/others/regpost.htm.