Modernizing mining and mineral exploration in Ontario
April 10, 2018 – Ontario Launches Online Mining Claims The online claims process is one part of the reforms intended to modernize prospecting in Ontario, and potentially lower the intrusive nature of physical staking. At MMAAC, FOCA continues to fight for better notification of exploration activities to the public and adjacent landowners.
From the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing:
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) is the statement of the government’s policies on land use planning. It applies province-wide and provides clear policy direction on land use planning to promote strong communities, a strong economy, and a clean and healthy environment.
It includes policies on key issues that affect our communities, such as:
• the efficient use and management of land and infrastructure
• protection of the environment and resources
• ensuring appropriate opportunities for employment and residential development, including support for a mix of uses
Municipalities use the PPS to develop their official plans and to guide and inform decisions on other planning matters.
Land use planning in waterfront communities is of great interest to waterfront property owners. FOCA dedicates considerable effort in the name of sensible policies and adequate public involvement in the planning process. You can read more about FOCA, and the PPS here.
The revised (2014) PPS (pdf; 56 pages) makes specific reference to planning for mineral resources, under Section 2.4: “Minerals and petroleum resources shall be protected for long-term use.” However, mining and mineral exploration can be a disruptive and intrusive land use especially when it occurs (or private, or Crown land) in settled areas or in cottage communities. These types of conflicts, and the need for modern approaches and policies to govern mining activities, were the reasons FOCA became deeply involved in mining policy.
Ontario’s Mining Act
As members of the Ministers Mining Act Advisory Committee (MMAAC) for many years, FOCA has seen continued progress on the modernization of this Act, and the more mindful consideration of other private property interests in the Province.
Prior to the recent revisions, much of Ontario’s Mining Act was over 100 years old. As part of the necessary upgrades and reforms, FOCA’s input to the regulations have included as overarching goals:
- Relief for surface rights owners (SROs) who did not own their mining rights.
- Recognition of the interests of cottagers and other landowners living adjacent to crown land that might be staked and subject to exploration activities.
- Transparency in the process, including full public information and opportunities for input at early stages when the Ministry could intervene to mitigate potential impacts when the community raises legitimate concerns.
After many years of patient and diligent work towards a modern and more thoughtful approach to mining in Ontario, FOCA was cautiously pleased that Bill 173, an Act to amend the Mining Act received third and final reading in the Ontario Legislature on October 21, 2009. The Mining Amendment Act received Royal Assent on October 28, 2009.
The revised Act included some important improvements that affect property owners in Ontario:
- Protecting the property rights of private land owners who do not own their mineral rights.
- Strengthening environmental considerations during mineral exploration
- Creating a map staking system which should reduce intrusive and unannounced entry onto private lands for the purposes of staking
- Requiring increased training to obtain a prospector’s license, and requiring advance notice to property owners prior to entry onto private lands
This means that SROs’ mining rights have largely been addressed in the revised Mining Act, with changes implemented in stages starting in 2011. If you do not own the mining rights to your property and if your land was not already staked, the mineral rights have been withdrawn in Southern Ontario, or you can now apply to have them withdrawn in Northern Ontario.
FOCA continues work through MMAAC to lobby to protect the interests of all land owners on outstanding issues related to land use planning and appeals, in particular.
We have been focused on the proposed regulations which govern early exploration activities. The new system of exploration plans and permits was implemented in April 2012. This system categorizes the potential impact of proposed activities and requires either an exploration PLAN (for lower impact activities), or exploration PERMIT, for higher impact activities such as trenching.
FOCA remains involved at the Minster’s Committee table, and also encourages anyone who is interested to share your individual concerns or questions with us and/or direct them to your local MNDMF office.
Learn More: Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
– with notes from MNDMF and Ted Spence — FOCA volunteer and member of MMAAC