The Québec Mineral Strategy entitled Preparing the Future of Québec’s Mineral Sector tabled this summer addresses three main policy directions: Create wealth and prepare the future of the mineral sector, ensure environment friendly mineral development and foster integrated, community-related mineral development.
In seeking to reach those objectives, the Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife, on December 2, 2009, tabled Bill 79 entitled An Act to amend the Mining Act in order to obtain guarantees regarding the restoration of mining sites. The proposed amendments would also confer to the Minister the power to exclude territories in the Province from mining activities in accordance with regional planning objectives. The Mining Act would require every holder of mining rights who engages in exploration work to furnish a guarantee covering rehabilitation and restoration obligations required under the Act. In the event that a company fails to provide the guarantee within the required delay, the proposed amendments provide that the company pay a penalty equal to 10% of the amount of the guarantee. Furthermore, if the company leaves material on the land where exploration work was done at the expiry of the mining exploration rights, a fine of between $50,000 to $100,000 could be imposed on the offender depending on the geographic area concerned.
Rehabilitation and restoration obligations for mine operators are also increased by the proposed amendments so that an operator who engages in mining operations, who operates a concentration plant or who engages in mining operations in respect of tailings will be required to furnish a guarantee covering the anticipated costs of the rehabilitation and restoration of accumulation areas, geotechnical soil stabilization, stabilizing mine openings and surface pillars, water treatment and road work. The guarantee which, presently, must cover 70% of the anticipated cost of performing the work required under the rehabilitation and restoration plan approved by the Minister in relation with accumulation areas will be increased to 100% of the anticipated costs of such work. The guarantee shall also be revised three (3) years following the adoption of Bill 79. The release of a person from the obligations with respect to rehabilitation and restoration work shall remain possible under the amendments where the rehabilitation and restoration work has been performed, in the Minister’s opinion, in accordance with the rehabilitation and restoration plan that has been approved and no sum of money is due to the Minister with respect to the performance of the work and, in the Minister’s opinion, the land affected by the mining activities no longer presents a risk for the environment or for the health and safety of individuals. Such a release will still be available where the Minister agrees to let a third person assume the obligations. In each case, a favourable opinion from the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks shall be required prior to issuing a certificate of release.