Quebec mining bill calls for transparency and local processing

May 30, 2013

A mining bill in Quebec, Canada that would require mining companies provide 100 percent of the cost of mine reclamation once work is complete, while also calling for more mineral processing to take place in the province as a condition for a mining license was presented by the Parti Québécois government.

The bill, the Mining Act in the Quebec National Assembly, also known as Bill 43, called for dialogue between mining companies and nearby communities, the Montreal Gazette reported

In the name of transparency, mining companies would have to make public the tonnage of minerals extracted and the amount of royalties paid to the province.

Companies would have to make public their claims within 60 days and reveal operating plans 90 days before work starts.

Martine Ouellet, the PQ minister of natural resources, said it took almost nine months to frame Bill 43 because she consulted the mining industry and municipal governments about exclusion zones, where mining would not be allowed.

The Association minière du Québec and the Union des municipalitiés du Québec both criticized Ouellet's new bill.

The municipal association said Bill 43 “does not meet the expectations of the municipalities,” objecting specifically that the bill gives the natural resources minister a veto over municipal land-use plans, allowing her to overrule decisions to ban mining in parts of municipal territory.

Josée Méthot, president of the Association minière du Québec, said Bill 43 would “burden” mining companies, pointing to the requirement that they present a feasibility plan on transforming minerals in the province as a condition for a mining lease.

Ouellet said four other Canadian provinces - Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario - already require mineral processing.

Méthot said the industry agrees that mining sites should be restored, but said the requirement that 100 per cent of restoration costs must be put up within two years, at the start of work, would add to the company's costs in the key startup period when capital is needed.

“In Quebec the production costs, the transportation costs are higher and the royalties are higher than anywhere else,” Méthot said, adding companies will weigh these factors is deciding between a new mining project in Quebec or another province.

Amir Khadir, of Québec solidaire, is not happy with the concept of excluded zones. He called instead to a change to Bill 43 to end the principle of “free mining,” which gives mining companies exploration rights taking precedence over other laws and rights.

Khadir called on Ouellet to adopt by regulation two proposals in Bill 43, so they come into force right away: the requirements for mining site restoration and environmental assessment.

François Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec, said Quebec needs a new Mining Act urgently to attract new mining investments, and his party is willing to extend the National Assembly session into the summer if that is what it takes to adopt Bill 43.



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