Canada: Developments In Ontario's Efforts To Update Its Mining Regulations And New Policy Directions For Quebec's Mining Industry

Phase 2 of Ontario's proposed new mining regulations – what's up?

We last reported on proposed regulatory changes under Ontario's Mining Act in a July 2012 legal update. What is the status of these regulations? What has occurred since then and when will the regulations be issued? The short answer is that the regulations and guidance documents are still under development and the earliest the regulations may be out is November.1 Although the public consultation period on the six regulatory proposals posted on the Environmental Registry (Registry) in March 2012 is closed, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) is continuing to consult with First Nations on phase 2 of the Mining Act regulations, which deals extensively with relations between First Nations and the mining industry.

Industry backlash

Some First Nations have pointed out what they see as flaws in the regulations and are concerned with how the government will monitor and enforce mining industry regulations and also how First Nations will be compensated for their consultation expenses. Some are also concerned with the attitudes, public statements and actions by some junior exploration companies who have grouped themselves in an ad hoc manner under the name "Miners United" and who appear to be taking a hard line stance on consultations with and compensation for First Nations by companies exploring for minerals on Crown lands.

Various news reports this past summer have highlighted the increased clashes and confrontations between some of these companies and First Nations. Recently, on September 4, the Ontario Superior Court granted Solid Gold Resources Corp. leave to appeal the January 3, 2012, interim injunction that was successfully obtained by the Wahgoshig First Nations (Wahgoshig) and effectively prevented this TSX Venture Exchange junior miner from continuing further exploratory activity in the Lake Abitibi area, within traditional Wahgoshig territory, until meaningful consultation and accommodation took place among the government of Ontario, the company and Wahgoshig. The case raises critical issues about consultation with First Nations, a mining company's right of "free entry" onto Crown lands under the Mining Act, and who has the duty to consult2 and how it is to be carried out.

Current status

Meanwhile, the MNDM is hoping to produce regulations that will balance the interests of First Nations and the industry. The regulations will have to be approved by cabinet committee and may not be posted on the Registry before then, although a notice of the government's decision will be. Necessary guidance documents and operational policies are currently being prepared, some of which will progressively be posted on the MNDM website and/or Registry.

Of note is that the MNDM website was changed over the summer with negative results for anyone trying to keep abreast of developments. In an apparent government move to streamline and standardize websites, almost all of the information about modernizing Ontario's Mining Act has disappeared. Hopefully the MNDM will, sometime this fall, establish a dedicated place on its website for Mining Act regulatory developments. Anyone with an interest in this topic should consider lobbying the MNDM and their MLA representatives to ensure that comprehensive update information is posted to the website in a timely, transparent manner so that all interested parties have adequate opportunity to know what is happening, as it is happening.

Mining development policy of the new government of Quebec

The election of a new government in Quebec is likely to have an effect on mining development in the province. The Parti québécois election platform contained the following policy announcements for the mining industry:

  • Encourage secondary and tertiary processing of Quebec's mining resources;
  • Increase royalties to "economically and socially acceptable levels";
  • Create a Mining Stock Purchase Plan to encourage Quebec workers and Quebecers generally to invest in mining projects in Quebec;
  • Modernize the Mining Act, eliminating the precedence of the Mining Act over the Act respecting land use planning and development, the Environment Quality Act and the Sustainable Development Act and "adding a flexible mechanism to harmonize uses of the territory";
  • Modernize the Mining Act, ensuring protection of the environment and respect for First Nations and safeguarding the ability of local and regional authorities to act "for all the interests of the communities they represent."
  • Abolish the power of expropriation that holders of mining exploration rights currently have.

Recent measures

This ambitious program was crafted in 2011. Since then, the previous government continued its own efforts to modernize the Mining Act by tabling Bill 79 and subsequently Bill 14. Bill 14 introduced measures to improve environmental protection (especially by making all mining projects subject to mandatory environmental assessment), ensure respect for First Nations' rights and enhance municipalities' control over mining lands, particularly around urban areas, vacation areas and residential areas where mining activity is not appropriate. The amendments to Bill 14 made by the parliamentary commission maintained the veto right of local municipalities but provided for the possibility of mediation between a mining operator and a municipality that is reluctant to allow mining on its territory. The new government wishes to go further by abolishing mining operators' current immunity from the application of municipal bylaws.

As for the "precedence" of the Mining Act over the Environment Quality Act and the Sustainable Development Act, we do not know what that means since those statutes do not grant any immunity or privilege to Quebec mining operators, who are subject to the Environment Quality Act in its entirety and even to the depollution attestation regime.

The Parti québécois platform also promises a moratorium on shale gas exploration until new regulations to ensure environmental protection and public health are adopted, in all likelihood after the tabling of the report on strategic environmental assessment that is currently being prepared. The platform does envisage the possibility, however, of "allowing safe exploration and sustainable development of potential oil and natural gas reserves in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on land" having regard for the territorial sovereignty of Quebec and its ecosystems, after holding a comprehensive public debate in which the coastal regions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence "should participate actively."

Compliance issues

We do not know what the new government's timetable will be for the above-mentioned policy proposals and which ones will be treated as a priority. However, we note that the policies advocated by the new government of Quebec aim to strengthen regulatory aspects of environmental protection, give more control over mining in Quebec to local communities, and encourage Quebecers to participate in mining development in the province. If coercive action is taken to achieve these objectives, compliance with the international free trade agreements to which Canada is a party and the Agreement on Internal Trade to which Quebec is a party will need to be assessed. If incentive measures are taken to implement this policy, issues of compliance with intergovernmental trade agreements of Quebec and Canada will probably be avoided.

Clearly the Quebec mining industry does not like the idea of giving a veto or right of control to municipalities over the development of mining resources, preferring to support the view that mining resources are a collective resource that belongs to all Quebecers, to be used for the economic development of the province, job creation and the creation of wealth for all Quebecers. We expect the public debate on this question to continue.


1 Based on discussions with Robert Merwin, director of MNDM's Mining Act modernization secretariat.

2 The duty to consult and accommodate is a duty belonging to the Crown as established by the Supreme Court of Canada in Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 73, [2004] 3 SCR 511.

Norton Rose Group

Norton Rose Group is a leading international legal practice. We offer a full business law service to many of the world's pre-eminent financial institutions and corporations from offices in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Central Asia.

Knowing how our clients' businesses work and understanding what drives their industries is fundamental to us. Our lawyers share industry knowledge and sector expertise across borders, enabling us to support our clients anywhere in the world. We are strong in financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and pharmaceuticals and life sciences.

We have more than 2900 lawyers operating from 43 offices in Abu Dhabi, Almaty, Amsterdam, Athens, Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Bogotá, Brisbane, Brussels, Calgary, Canberra, Cape Town, Caracas, Casablanca, Dubai, Durban, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, Milan, Montréal, Moscow, Munich, Ottawa, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Prague, Québec, Rome, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto and Warsaw; and from associate offices in Dar es Salaam, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta.

Norton Rose Group comprises Norton Rose LLP, Norton Rose Australia, Norton Rose Canada LLP, Norton Rose South Africa (incorporated as Deneys Reitz Inc), and their respective affiliates.

On January 1, 2012, Macleod Dixon joined Norton Rose Group adding strength and depth in Canada, Latin America and around the world. For more information please visit

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.