April 2016    Print this article

The Strategic Vision for Mining Development

Jancimon Reid
Ministère de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles

Luc Blanchette, Minister for Mines, unveiled the content of the Strategic Vision for Mining Development in Québec on March 15 last. The aim of the Vision is to provide a way forward that will rally all the stakeholders.

As was the case for the 2009 Mineral Strategy, the Strategic Vision for Mining Development will guide the Government’s actions in the mining sector for the next five years.

The process began in November 2014 with a series of consultations for sector stakeholders and the Government departments and agencies concerned.

In the winter of 2015, the Minister toured the regions of Québec to meet with representatives from the mining industry, social and environmental groups and the municipal and research communities.

Several meetings, working sessions and discussion panels were organized to check the mining sector’s pulse.

After consulting industry players and receiving comments from the Aboriginal communities, the Government prepared a set of guidelines and proposed actions that will harmonize with other strategies such as the Plan Nord and the Maritime Strategy.

After many months of consultations and reflection, the outcome of the process was published in the form of the Strategic Vision.

One vision, three guidelines

The Strategic Vision for Mining Development covers a five-year period. It applies to the entire mining sector, from exploration through equipment suppliers and manufacturers to mining and primary metal processing companies.

The Strategic Vision for Mining Development is based on three main guidelines designed to:

These three guidelines echo the principles of sustainable development, which form the backbone of responsible mine development.

Support the exploration sector

The Government has planned a number of concrete measures that will provide more effective support for companies in the exploration sector and enhance the economic spinoffs from exploration.

For example, SIDEX has been renewed for an additional term. The cost of statutory work on a claim has also been reduced by 35% for 2016 and 2017.

In addition, with the collaboration of the Ministère des Finances, the effectiveness of certain exploration support tax measures will be assessed to ensure that they have a countercyclical effect and that the credit and deduction rates take infrastructure remoteness into account.

Administrative processes for the issuing of claims will also be simplified, and the time taken to obtain a claim will be reduced, especially for applications in areas with no constraints on mining activity. At the same time, steps will be taken to reduce some of the sources of user dissatisfaction from the application of the Mining Act.

Mine operations

If Québec’s mines are to remain competitive, they must be able to ship their production to the markets by means of suitable infrastructures that are both effective and competitively priced. The Government has therefore undertaken to improve infrastructures and promote a variety of transportation methods (road, rail, maritime and air), especially in the area covered by the Plan Nord.

In the past, the authorizations required to start a mining project have not been processed as quickly as the Government would have liked, and it has therefore decided to set maximum timeframes for the processing of mining leases. It will also introduce a single wicket system for leases, in collaboration with the main Government departments involved in the authorization process.

As for the MERN, it has also undertaken to publish a normative framework for the mining sector that will summarize the steps required to obtain the main licences, leases and authorizations needed to develop a mining project.

Several other goals have been announced to encourage responsible mining and mineral processing for the benefit of all Québecers. Among other things, the Government has undertaken to provide financial support for mining projects via the Capital Mines Hydrocarbon Fund, which has a budget envelope of $1 billion.

Primary metal processing

In terms of primary metal processing, the Government believes it is important to consolidate the industry’s position and promote its growth in Québec.

Among other things, the Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation has undertaken to prepare an action plan for Québec’s metallurgical industry, and to develop the supply of hydrometallurgical process pilot plants.

In addition, the Government will finance companies that process ore and metals from Québec, and will also support research projects on new processes.

Equipment manufacturers and suppliers

The Government also plans to reinforce the network of equipment manufacturers and suppliers throughout Québec, to make them more effective and competitive, and to provide access to new markets in Québec and abroad.

For example, the ACCORD niches will encourage partnerships between equipment manufacturers and suppliers with complementary products and expertise. As for Export Québec, it will be asked to prepare a sector-specific development strategy for markets outside Québec.

Lastly, to meet the need for qualified workers in the metal processing sector, workplace training will be offered for welders and machine operators.

Impacts on the environment

With regard to the environment and sustainable development, the Strategic Vision for Mining Development will build on the gains from the Mineral Strategy. To achieve the target of reducing mining-related environmental liabilities by 50% between now and 2022, the Government has undertaken to carry out restoration work on those sites considered to generate the greatest risk to human health and safety and to the environment.

Steps will also be taken to optimize metal use, develop mine tailings, increase the use of green technologies and achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Transparency and citizen participation

The Strategic Vision provides for a number of measures in the area of citizen participation and corporate social responsibility. For example, it proposes the adoption and implementation of Government guidelines for the mineral resource component of land use plans, which will allow the regional county municipalities to designate mining-incompatible areas.

In addition, to better identify the factors that influence social acceptability, the Government will fund research projects and will assist the mining companies with a view to promoting the hiring of local and Aboriginal workers for large mining projects. The Government has also promised to clarify the terms of Aboriginal community consultations by adopting a consultation policy specifically for the mining sector.

Toward responsible mining development

In short, the Strategic Vision for Mining Development is designed to position Québec’s mining industry by fostering the involvement of all the partners.

Accordingly, with the agreement of the actors consulted, the Government has drawn up a list of conditions to help ensure that Québec’s mining industry is developed successfully. They include:

Through this set of concrete measures, the Government will not only put an end to the climate of uncertainty, but will also consolidate Québec’s place as a leader in the field of responsible mining development.

 

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