Ontario aims to revise mining actPublished by MAC on 2008-08-19
Source: Jessey Bird, The Ottawa Citizen (2008-08-06)
Uranium talks not on the table; avoiding the topic a mistake, critic says
Jessey Bird, The Ottawa Citizen
6th August 2008
The Ontario government is launching a series of public consultations next week to discuss modernizing the Ontario Mining Act, but one topic that won't be up for discussion is the recent calls for a provincial ban on uranium mining, the minister responsible says.
Aboriginal groups as well as some non-native Eastern Ontarians have been at odds with mining companies, which can legally stake mining claims on private land if the owners don't possess the mineral rights.
"My first reaction is that it is a really good thing that this is happening," said Marilyn Crawford of the upcoming public meetings. Ms. Crawford is on the board of Mining Watch Canada and is also a member of the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium. "But I think they are making a big mistake by not including uranium in the discussions."
The group recently released a report demanding uranium exploration be suspended in Ontario until its impact on health, the environment and aboriginal land rights is addressed.
The provincial government has made it very clear that even though there are no operating uranium mines in Ontario, it will not consider a moratorium.
The consultations are aimed at promoting "fair, balanced and sustainable development" under a revised mining act, the mining ministry said in a statement. Aboriginal leaders have battled with provincial authorities over mining companies' legal right to explore on native land, and the statement promises aboriginals will be heavily involved in future consultations.
"We want to continue to be in a position to take advantage of the extremely positive economic climate relating to the mining sector," said Michael Gravelle, minister of northern development and mines. "On the other hand, it is important that there be a greater respect shown to the needs and aspirations of our First Nations community."
Uranium will not be included in the review because it is ordinarily governed at the federal level, said Mr. Gravelle, adding that the issues surrounding separate surface and mineral rights will be up for discussion. The ministry will release a paper on Monday that will outline the full scope of the talks, he said.
"One of the concerns I have is that the discussion paper may limit the scope of the review," said Ms. Crawford. "I'm just wondering if it is going to be limited to property-rights issues and if it is not going to address a lot of the other problems there are with the mining act - like lack of environmental assessment."
The Ontario Mining Act was passed in 1868 and has changed little since. Mr. Gravelle has promised to submit legislation that will update the act before the end of 2008.
McGuinty Government Starts Modernization Process With Meetings in Timmins
Onatario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
11th August 2008
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is launching its public consultations on the modernization of the Mining Act today in Timmins.
The modernization process will build on commitments outlined in Ontario's Mineral Development Strategy, and on input and information received during previous consultations and dialogues - including ongoing discussions regarding an Aboriginal Consultation Approach for Mineral Sector Activities, the EBR-Environmental Registry posting on surface and mineral rights issues, consultations on Ontario's Mineral Development Strategy and preliminary discussions toward the development of a Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.
Discussion will focus on five policy issues: The mineral tenure system, including free entry, and security of investment; Aboriginal rights and interests related to mining development; regulatory processes for exploration activities on Crown land; land use planning in Ontario's Far North as it relates to mineral exploration and development; and private rights and interests relating to mineral development.
The first public consultation will be held today from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Howard Johnson Inn in Timmins.
"By modernizing the Mining Act, we can ensure that our legislation continues to promote fair, balanced and sustainable mineral development that benefits the province and respects communities," said Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle.
The mining industry is the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal Canadians.
Other stakeholder and public sessions are planned for Sudbury (August 13), Thunder Bay (August 18), Kingston (August 28) and Toronto (September 8).
Focused discussions will also take place with industry representatives and First Nations and Métis leaders. The ministry will also seek input from First Nation communities across Ontario.