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Ford government establishes a multi-stakeholder team two years ago

Jan 14, 2021

By Kevin Vincent
It has been nearly two years since the Ford government established a multi-stakeholder team to tackle Ontario’s diminishing mining reputation on the global stage. As one CEO told us privately, “We’re back!”
  What the CEO was referencing, was Ontario’s freefall from being one of the world’s top jurisdictions for mining, to one of the worst – a plummet that coincided with the Liberal government regimes of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, enthusiastically supported by the NDP, who, simultaneously presided over the virtual collapse of Ontario’s forest sector during their 15-years of power at Queens Park.
The recent reversal of fortunes that coincided with the election of the Doug Ford government, has impacted more than mining companies.
  The prices of commodities, coupled with the Ford government’s commitment to finding responsible pathways to production, are credited with a province-wide boom in mining. For example, that boom is funneling millions of dollars into First Nations communities who, for the first time, are sharing handsomely in the fruits of resource extraction on their traditional lands.
  The Mine Working Group, established by Ford and under the leadership of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister Greg Rickford of Kenora is rapidly restoring Ontario’s mining reputation.
In an exclusive interview with Mining Life, Rickford said Premier Ford has become Ontario’s top mining ambassador. “The Premier was thoroughly blown away by the dramatic impact that mining has in this province,” said Rickford. “When he saw the jobs created by the Harte Gold opening in October of 2018, it really made an impact.”
  “The opening of Harte Gold’s Sugar Zone Mine is a signal to the world that Ontario is Open for Business. It shows that this government is committed to improving the conditions for businesses, so they can thrive. It’s also one more example of why Ontario is a global leader in mineral exploration and production,” said Premier Ford at the opening. “We told the people of Ontario we would create and protect good, local jobs all over the province. We will continue to support businesses that are bringing more prosperity and economic growth to every corner of Ontario.”
  Since then, Rickford and Ford have jointly participated in two other major mine openings, the Newmont all-electric Borden Mine west of Timmins, and the IAMGOLD Cote Lake Mine near Gogama.
  While the openings, which averaged 8-10 years to achieve, are a symptom of higher enthusiasm for the province’s industry, the real heavy lifting is happening with the Working Group.

What changes are being proposed to Ontario’s regulatory framework?
Relief for claim holders
1) Allow the Minister to enact a blanket exclusion of time and/or extension of assessment work.
“We are proposing the changes for relief for claim holders to improve efficiency, provide greater business certainty for claim holders and ensure the Ministry is in a position to quickly react in the event of another crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic affecting Ontario’s exploration industry,” explains the Group in a statement to Mining Life.
 2) Allow for the Minister to annul the forfeiture of boundary claims in circumstances where Minister currently cannot.
“We are proposing the changes to streamline the Act to reduce time and burden for claim holders and lessees, provide clear direction to clients, address stakeholder concerns around interest to rental payments, and remove references to subsections that have already been repealed from the Act.”

Streamlining and Improving Consistency in the Mining Act
1)  Give the Minister the authority to include those “gap lands” in a lease issued under the Act, without the burden and cost of getting a lease through an OIC.
2) Provide for the changing features in the Mining Lands Administration System (MLAS) that allows lessees to apply for a renewal of their mining leases using the online platform.
3)   Allow the Minister to waive interest on late payments for “exchange leases” issued under s. 83, in order to make the Minister’s ability to offer economic relief consistent across all types of leases administered under the Act.
4) Fix an erroneous cross-reference.

Registered Mail
1)  Eliminate the legislative requirement that documentation be submitted to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and the Minister of Finance by certain prescribed means, including registered mail.
2) The definition of “Minister” be updated to “the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines”.
“Legislatively prescribing the means to submit documentation is rigid and often impractical and does not allow Local Service Boards (LSBs) to utilize more practical and cost-efficient means of submitting documentation. Rather, it is proposed that the Ministry’s LSB handbook provide more specific direction to LSBs as to how documentation can be submitted to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and the Minister of Finance, including electronic mail, regular mail or personal delivery.”
Q.  How would the proposed change benefit stakeholders?

Relief for claim holders
i. Most claim holders will welcome the change allowing them to apply for annulment of forfeiture. This provision has been limiting to claim holders’ management of their mining claims. Note, however, any third parties acquiring interests in the forfeited boundary claim would see those interests removed as a result of the annulment of the forfeiture.
ii. During the recent pandemic, the mining industry was critical of the government for not reacting fast enough to provide relief to claim holders from filing assessment work. Stakeholders have asked for a provision to be added to the Mining Act for any future emergencies, to ensure the Minister has authority to provide “blanket relief”.

Streamlining and Improving Consistency in the Mining Act
i. These amendments will be positively received by stakeholders. Some stakeholders told the Ministry that they were facing economic hardship due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Minister wants to have express statutory authority to provide economic relief for interest on rental payments on all types of leases.
ii. For both of these proposed changes, Indigenous organizations may express concerns that they would like similar considerations embedded in legislation in the event of a situation such as COVID, may express concerns that they have not been consulted on other elements of proposals, or may misconstrue these proposals.

Registered Mail
i. Amending the legislation aligns with Ontario’s goal to reduce burden for the MUSH sector and also aligns with the province’s Digital First Strategy.   
ii. The proposed amendments are not expected to impact small businesses. The amendment will result in modernization of Local Services Boards (LSB) administration.  
iii. There has been no issues or concerns raised regarding this item. This is an internal proposal to align with the province’s Digital First Strategy. Local Services Boards were not consulted on this proposal.
They will be advised that digital submissions are optional. They will be able to submit hard copy reports if they wish to do so.
In the end, Rickford says the Ontario mining industry is well-positioned for growth and the province must take advantage of growing trends.
Rickford told Mining Life that the Premier is “intensely involved” in contributing to the process of making certain that Ontario gets more than its share of the global mining industry jobs and the benefits that come with the opening of new mines.

This article and more can be seen from the link below to Mining Life & Exploration News-Golden Circle Issue




Tags: Northern Ontario / Government / Minerals / All Articles