The latest attempt to amend the Quebec Mining Act, also known as Bill 70, was adopted earlier today by the Quebec National Assembly. Tabled just last Thursday, December 5, 2013, by Quebec Minister of Natural Resources Martine Ouellet, Bill 70 was subjected yesterday to a special parliamentary closure rule. This rule, agreed to by the governing Parti Québécois and the opposition party, Coalition de l’Avenir du Québec, essentially limited the length of debate over Bill 70 and fast-tracked its adoption.
Although parliamentary review of Bill 70 was limited, certain aspects of the bill were modified before it was passed. For instance, the formalities for obtaining a certificate of authorization under theEnvironmental Quality Act may be streamlined if the Minister deems them unreasonable or detrimental to the realization of the mining project under consideration. Also, Bill 70 was modified to allow for the conditions for the grant of a mining lease to be set by regulation (such conditions had not been explicitly set out in the proposed amendments to the Mining Act). The requirement to consult with First Nations groups was also expanded by attributing that obligation to the entire government and not just the Minister. Lastly, the confidentiality period for annual work reports to be submitted by mining operators was changed from two years to five years.
After years of speculation as to what a reform of the Mining Act might entail, the mining industry in Quebec now has a greater degree of certainty with respect to the legislative regime. How the changes to theMining Act themselves will affect the mining industry in Quebec, however, remains to be seen.
For further information on the newly adopted Bill 70, please see our previous article.