(Ottawa) Ontario’s Mineral Development Strategy is nearly 10 years old and needs to be renewed. MiningWatch Canada releases today its key concerns and recommendations regarding the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’ Proposed Framework released in March 2015.
“The current Proposed Framework is too narrow in scope and fails to address the broader social, environmental, and long-term economic aspects of mining. Ontario needs to provide a framework for a more balanced approach to mining,” says Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.
Since the last Mineral Development Strategy adopted in 2006 –nearly 10 years ago– thousands of Ontarians, First Nations, community groups, environmental organizations, workers’ unions, property owners, cottage associations, municipalities, and others, have expressed deep concerns regarding mining policies, regulations, and practices in Ontario.
“While the “Modernization of the Mining Act” in 2009 and the passing of the Far North Act in 2010 provided for some steps forward, those legislations did not bring about all the necessary changes for a more balanced approach to mining in Ontario,” adds Lapointe.
As stated recently in an open letter sent to the Auditor General of Ontario, MiningWatch is concerned about the current lack of a comprehensive “value for money,” cost-benefit analysis for mining in Ontario. MiningWatch is also concerned that severe environmental costs and liabilities are not accounted for in the ongoing review of the Mineral Development Strategy.
In its submission, MiningWatch Canada makes five main recommendations for a renewed Mineral Development Strategy in Ontario:
- Conduct a comprehensive cost-benefits analysis of mining, including a review of the mining royalty and taxation regime, direct and indirect subsidies, mining site clean-up costs and liability, as well as unaccounted social, cultural and environmental costs;
- Ensure a “Zero Public Liability” financial assurance regime for mining site clean-up, spills, and accidents, including financial bonds provided before the opening of a new mine, as well as a “Perpetual Care Fund” financed by industry contributions, building over time, for the rehabilitation and perpetual care of abandoned mine sites;
- Establish mandatory environmental & social impact assessments (ESIA) and public consultations for all new mines in Ontario, including provisions allowing for ESIAs of exploration projects in sensitive areas, as well as for strategic ESIAs to address development impacts at a regional level (e.g. Ring of Fire), or for impacts of a particular industry (e.g. uranium mines);
- Establish an effective environmental monitoring, compliance and enforcement regime, both by strengthening existing regulatory agencies (expertise, funding, etc.) and by requiring the industry to support and finance independent monitoring committees;
- Ensure the full protection and respect of First Nations’ Treaty and inherent rights to lands and resources, including the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), in fulfilment of Canada's commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
All of these recommendations are being implemented, in one form or another, in other jurisdictions in Canada or internationally.
“Ontario should also fully integrate the recommendations from the recent Independent Engineering Panel’s report on the Mount Polley disaster spill to further decrease short and long term liability of mining tailings facilities in the province,” concludes Ugo Lapointe.
For more information:
- Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada, (514) 708-0134
- Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439