Updates to the Mining Act look to boost mining activity in the north

CTV News

Dan Bertrand, CTV News

Ontario’s minister of mines wants to mine the region’s critical minerals more quickly by making it easier to approve new projects.

“We need the critical minerals out of the ground in northern Ontario,” said Provincial Mines Minister George Pirie.

Officials say northern Ontario has the potential to be a hot bed for technological development due to its abundance of high-tech minerals being sought throughout the world.

The northwest and the Timmins-area have become desired areas for exploration to locate lithium, nickel, platinum group metals and other raw materials that international automakers and digital companies want secured in making the transition to zero-carbon technologies. This is in addition to established mines in the Sudbury-area and the northeast.

The provincial government has recognized the manufacturing opportunity the northern mineral supply can create and Pirie has tabled a bill to update Ontario’s Mining Act to make it more industry-friendly, particularly when it comes to faster permitting times to put new mines into production.

Pirie said some aspects are too time-consuming and there is a current demand for the wealth of minerals found in northern Ontario.

“It shouldn’t take 15 years to open a mine. This process is too time consuming and costly, leading to project delays and lost opportunities for Ontario’s mineral exploration and mining sector,” he said, in a news release Thursday.

He said his bill will change the Mining Act to give him more decision-making power over explorations and mine rehabilitation, with the largest change being the loosening of the requirement to file a full plan for the mine’s closure beforehand – instead deferring it to later stages.

Pirie said this bill won’t affect the level of care for environmental safety or Indigenous relations.

However, some critics are not convinced.

“Undoing those safeguards and making the process more streamlined and less accountable, is really just, I think, a recipe for disaster,” said Mining Watch Canada’s Jamie Kneen.

He and other critics pointed out that most mines don’t need to assess their impacts on the environment and public health — and that the bill can only cause more harm in favour of economic gain.


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