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Extraction Rights

There are two types of extraction right in Québec. Depending on the type of substance to be extracted, a mining lease or a lease to mine surface mineral substances will be issued.

Mining lease

To obtain a mining lease, a claim holder must first establish the existence of indicators showing the presence of a workable deposit, and must submit a report certified by an engineer who is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec or a geologist who is a member of the Ordre des géologues du Québec, describing the nature, extent and probable value of the deposit, as well as a project feasibility study and a scoping and market study as regards processing in Québec.

Mining lease applicants must provide the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN), at its request, with any document and information relating to the mining project.

The MERN may subject the mining lease to conditions designed to avoid conflicts with other uses of the territory.

When entering into the lease, the Government may, on reasonable grounds, require maximization of the economic spinoffs, within Québec, of mining the mineral resources under the lease.

A mining lease will be granted only when:

  • the rehabilitation and restoration plan has been approved;
  • the certificate of authorization stipulated in sections 22, 31.5, 165 and 201 of the Environment Quality Act has been issued;
  • and the project’s survey plan has been formalized by the Office of the Surveyor-General of Québec.

Applications must be sent to the registry office.

The initial term of the lease is 20 years. The lease may then be renewed no more than three times for a period of 10 years each time. After the third renewal, it may be renewed for periods of five years.

Establishment of a monitoring committee

Within 30 days after the lease is issued, the lessee must establish a monitoring committee to foster the involvement of the local community in the project as a whole.

The lessee decides on the number of representatives who will sit on the committee. However, the committee must include at least one representative from the municipal sector, one representative from the economic sector, one member of the public and, where applicable, one representative from an Aboriginal community consulted by the Government with respect to the project. A majority of the committee members must be independent of the lessee, and all must be from the region in which the mining lease is granted.

The Best Practices Guide for Monitoring Committees and Legal Obligations of Mining and Petroleum Project Promoters  is intended for promoters and local actors. It presents the results of an inventory of recognized best practices for the creation and operation of a monitoring committee, and also addresses the legal obligations of mining leaseholders.

The lessee’s other obligations

Every holder of a mining lease must also:

  • pay an annual rent;
  • begin work in the four years after the lease is issued;
  • and submit a variety of information on its mining activities.

The online publication “Mining Leases and Concessions” describes:

  • the conditions for issuing or renewing a mining lease;
  • the rights and obligations of holders;
  • the authorizations required to set up a mill or choose the location of mine tailing stockpiles;
  • the obligations related to filing a mining site rehabilitation plan and the terms and conditions for subdividing the land surface.

Lease to mine surface mineral substances

The Act provides for two types of titles to mine surface mineral substances:

  • A non-exclusive lease, for sand (except silica sand used for industrial purposes), gravel, inert mine tailings and any other mineral substance that occurs as an unconsolidated deposit in its natural state and is used for construction purposes.
  • Every non-exclusive lease ends on March 31 of the year following the year in which it is issued. The Minister may then extend the lease for periods of one year.
  • An exclusive lease, for the same substances, when the lease is requested:
    • to guarantee the supply required to carry on an industrial activity or to engage in commercial exporting outside Québec;
    • by a municipality or intermunicipal board to construct or maintain its road network;
    • by the State to construct or maintain a public highway or other State works.
  • A lease is also exclusive when it is required for any other surface mineral substance not covered by a non-exclusive lease.
  • The term of an exclusive lease to mine surface mineral substances cannot exceed 10 years, except in the case of peat, when the term is for 15 years. A lease may be renewed no more than twice, for a period of five years (or 15 years in the case of peat). After the second renewal, it may be renewed for subsequent periods of five years (or 15 years in the case of peat).

Regardless of the type of lease, all lessees must:

  • apply for a forestry permit  (in french only) if deforestation is required on the site;
  • submit an activity report (quarterly or annual declaration) to the MERN, stating the amounts extracted or alienated on a daily basis, and pay the royalties required, depending on the amount and type of substance.

The online publication “Exploration and Mining of Surface Mineral Substances” describes the conditions for granting, exercise and renewal of the rights relating to these activities.