Coming into force of the amendments to the Regulation respecting mineral substances other than petroleum, natural gas and brine on December 31, 2015
Brigitte Dionne and Hélène Giroux
Ministère de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles
The Regulation to amend the Regulation respecting mineral substances other than petroleum, natural gas and brine (chapter M-13.1, r. 2) came into force on December 31, 2015. The regulation also triggered the coming into force of seven provisions of the Act to amend the Mining Act, including the following requirements:
- Declaration, to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, of any discovery of mineral substances containing 0.1% or more of triuranium octaoxide within 90 days after the discovery.
- The holding of a public consultation, by the promoter, for every metal mine project with a production capacity of less than 2,000 metric tons per day. The Regulation stipulates requirements for the content of the public notice and its publication in a daily or weekly newspaper. In addition, a consultation report must be sent to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, mentioning the demands made by the general public and Aboriginal communities, and the promoter’s responses to those demands. The promoter must publish the report on a website.
- Establishment of a monitoring committee to foster the involvement of the local community in the mining project as a whole. The Regulation sets out the criteria that must be met to ensure the independence of the committee’s members. The committee must meet at least once a year, and the minutes of each meeting must be published on a website. At its first meeting, the committee must choose private methods of preventing and settling disputes. The mine operator is responsible for paying all the committee’s operating expenses, as well as the cost of its meetings. The travel and accommodation expenses of committee members, supported by vouchers, are reimbursed upon request. The mine operator must also provide the committee with the technical support it needs, including external expertise where required. An annual report of the committee’s activities and expenses must be published on a website within 90 days after the end of the mine’s financial year.
- A notification of a claim that must be sent by the claim holder to the landowner, the lessee, the holder of the exclusive lease to mine surface mineral substances and the local municipality after obtaining the claim. The notice required by the Mining Act, when a claim is registered, must be given using the document published on the website of the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles. The claim holder may elect either to send the notice to the municipality and people concerned, or to publish it in a daily or weekly newspaper circulated in the region in which the claim is located. In the latter case, a map showing the location of the mining title, which can be used to situate the title, must be published with the notice.
The Regulation also provides for the following amendments:
- A two-year reduction in the minimum cost of statutory work and an increase in the fees payable for registration and renewal of mining exploration titles and rents for leases to mine surface mineral substances also come into force with the Regulation. Details are as follows:
- a 35% reduction, for a two-year period beginning on December 31, 2015, in the minimum cost of statutory work to be carried out on a claim;
- a 16% increase in the fees, expenses and duties associated with a claim: 8% will apply as from January 1, 2016, and a further 8% as from January 1, 2017;
- a 12% increase in the duties, fees, rental and other amounts associated with a lease to mine surface mineral substances: 6% will apply as from January 1, 2016, and a further 6% as from January 1, 2017.
- The criterion for movement of unconsolidated deposits during exploration work is amended: the volume of unconsolidated deposits in excess of which a rehabilitation and restoration plan is required has been increased from 1,000 m3 to 5,000 m3.
- The holder of an outfitter’s licence may now submit a report of extraction of surface mineral substances once a year, instead of four times a year.
- In the absence of boundary markers, the holder of an exclusive lease to mine surface mineral substances may mark the perimeter and apexes of the parcel of land by means of posts driven with a precision equal to or greater than a metre.
- The list of “qualified professionals” for the purposes of the section on the nature of work has been amended by the addition of agronomists who are members of the Ordre des agronomes du Québec and, in the case of peat, the holders of a Bachelor’s degree in biology.
- Work relating to peat bogs has been added to the list of work that must be done by claim holders.
- In the case of a claim, the land surveyor, when surveying a mine, must be aware of all documents relating to staking and map designation, as well as conversion, merger and substitution of claims.
The amendments to the Regulation respecting mineral substances other than petroleum, natural gas and brine clearly reflect the importance the Government ascribes to transparency and public participation with a view to promoting the social acceptability of projects. They are also indicative of the Government’s support for exploration work in the context currently faced by mining companies.