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13 June 2011
On May 12 2011 Minister for Natural Resources and Wildlife Serge Simard tabled Bill 14 in the Quebec National Assembly. This bill would substantially amend the Mining Act. Bill 14 replaces Bill 79, which was the subject of general consultations in the previous legislative session.
The new bill includes a proposal to change the name of the Mining Act to the Act Respecting the Development of Mineral Resources, in keeping with the principles of sustainable development. Other noteworthy provisions of Bill 14 are discussed below.
Within 60 days, the holder of a mining claim must notify the owner, the lessee of lands in the domain of the state or the holder of an exclusive lease to mine surface mineral substances of the registration of the claim obtained, in the manner prescribed by regulation.
If the claim is in the territory of a municipality, the claim holder must also inform the municipality of the work to be performed at least 90 days before the work begins.
Before applying for a mining lease, the claim holder must hold a public consultation in the region concerned, in the manner prescribed by regulation. The rehabilitation and restoration plan must be made available to the public at least 30 days before the consultation begins. The minister will decide on the adequacy of the consultation and may impose any additional measures.
The minister may also subject the mining lease to conditions designed to avoid conflicts with other uses of the territory or to take into consideration comments received during the public consultation.
The holder of the mining right must establish a monitoring committee to ensure its compliance with the commitments made following the observations received during the public consultation.
Bill 14 provides that the minister may refuse an application for a lease, in the public interest. The minister may also refuse a sand and gravel lease in order to avoid conflicts with other uses of the territory. The minister may terminate a lease at any time, in the public interest. In such case the minister will grant the lease holder a lease for another parcel of land. Failing that, the minister will compensate the holder for the loss suffered.
Existing Section 231 of the Mining Act will be replaced by a new section. In addition to the protective measures necessary to prevent any damage and the safety measures prescribed by regulation, the minister may, if mining activities are temporarily or permanently discontinued, order the holder of a mining right or the operator to take any measure imposed by the minister. This provision does not apply in the case of a strike or lock-out or cessation of underground exploration or operation of a mine for a period of less than six months, or for a longer period if the mine is under the supervision of a watchman. The minister may cause the work to be done at the expense of a holder of a mining right or an operator that fails to comply with the minister's orders or the regulatory prescriptions.
Bill 14 also provides that a holder of mining rights, an operator that engages in mining operations, a person that operates a concentration plant or a person that engages in mining must furnish a guarantee covering the anticipated cost of completing the work required under the rehabilitation and restoration plan. The guarantee must be furnished before the work begins.
Rehabilitation and restoration work must begin within three years of the cessation of operations. However, the minister may require, by way of exception, that the work begin before that deadline, or authorise an extension.
The bill provides that the holder of a mining right must obtain written authorisation granting access to land granted, alienated or leased by the state for purposes other than mining purposes or to land subject to an exclusive lease to mine surface mineral substances. The holder may also acquire, by agreement, any real right or property necessary to access the land or to carry out exploration work or mining operations. If there is no agreement for that purpose, the holder of a mining right may acquire the property concerned by expropriation.
The bill provides that any area within an urbanisation perimeter and any area dedicated to vacationing is withdrawn from staking, map designation, mining exploration and mining operations. In order to perform work, the holders of claims in an area that has been so withdrawn must obtain the consent of the local municipality concerned. No compensation will be paid by the state for the consequences of an inability to perform work because of failure to obtain such an authorisation. At the request of a regional county municipality or the metropolitan community concerned, the minister may terminate the withdrawal of all or part of the area.
The bill introduces a presumption to the effect that the act is to be construed in a manner consistent with the obligation to consult native communities. The same section also provides that the minister must consult native communities specifically, depending on the circumstances.
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