READER COMMENTS: More thoughts on the Ontario Mining Act

"The plan to set up a new tier of administration of exploration in the north with required consultation, exploratio...

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"The plan to set up a new tier of administration of exploration in the north with required consultation, exploration plans and a dispute resolution process is potentially overwhelming but possibly necessary to foster greater comfort on behalf of First Nations," wrote James R.Trusler of Toronto. "It will also expose the individuals and groups categorically opposed to mining and the First Nations who are wanting to claw back rights they signed away in treaties.

 

"However, to give companies more security for future financing, it would be better to have access to taking properties to patent rather than lease," he added. [In the 1954 revision of the Mining Act, Ontario removed the ability to patent claims directly and instead provided for renewable leases.]

 

"I’m in favour of some of the provisions not all, and I question the need to have gone through this political struggle.

 

"In the case of Platinex the province has failed to provide for quiet possession of its claims and leases in spite of the fact that the courts did grant Platinex an injunction. At the same time Ontario has declined to forgive and/or remit lease rentals and has escalated the taxes on the leases by a factor of 100," the Platinex president and CEO continued. "In my humble opinion these actions by Ontario are neither fair nor equitable, but are unconscionable!

 

"I have quite a story to tell about the last 11 years, but it will have to be addressed on another day," Trusler concluded.

 

And from another exploration company:

 

"The proposed changes to the Mining Act are ill conceived and will, in my opinion as the CEO of a junior explorer active in Ontario, result in significantly increased uncertainty with respect to land tenure and mineral rights, significantly increased bureaucracy, increased government involvement in the exploration process and significantly increased costs to the explorer with no definable benefits," wrote Darin Wagner of West Timmins Mining from the head office in Vancouver. "Several legal firms specializing in mining have expressed similar concerns from the legal perspective concern the legislation – again apparently falling on deaf ears.

 

"This appears to be a politically expedient move to off-load government responsibilities, which they refuse to deal with, to the private sector and a rather thinly veiled attempt to solicit votes from the Aboriginal community, a community that already derives significant benefit from the industry which I believe is the largest employer of aboriginals in the province.

 

"This legislation mirrors in many ways similar statues enacted in British Columbia several years ago which led to a dramatic reduction in exploration expenditures in the province and I fear it will have a similar impact in Ontario," Wagner went on. "I would urge the government to reconsider this initiative before they do irreparable harm to Ontario’s reputation as one of the most favourable exploration and development jurisdictions in the world and cost the good people of northern Ontario employment opportunities.

 

"I am deeply concerned about the process," he continued, "in particular the permitting end of it which has been a logistical nightmare for years in British Columbia and has resulted in a very large decrease in exploration activities. We [West Timmins Mining] will not work in BC due in large part to these very issues. How any government can risk messing with investment and employment opportunities at this point, particularly the Ontario government who should be attempting to boost incentives, not throw up road blocks, is beyond me.

 

"On the Aboriginal end, a number of mining companies are already working productively with local communities, and [the new Act] will disrupt that process and introduce a great deal of uncertainty in the minds of explorers and developers into who has rights to what in Ontario and give the minister far too much discretional power.

 

"The Ontario Mining Act has been on a model for many jurisdictions worldwide and has stood the test of time. To see it effectively torn up for political purposes is very disappointing and demonstrates the short-term view of the current government in Toronto," concluded Wagner.

 

The legal firm Fasken Martineau has produced a brief pointing out a number of problems with the proposed Ontario Mining Act. It may be read at www.Fasken.com/mining_act_blackline.

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