"The “Better for People, Smarter for Business” is our project to make regulations more efficient. The timeline to open a mine is not at the speed of business or commodity markets and we are working to correct this."

Hon. Greg Rickford

MINISTER OF ENERGY, NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT, MINES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS, GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO

March 24, 2020

Where is your attention focused to improve the mining sector in Ontario?

We are focusing on key areas in order to position Ontario as the number on jurisdiction in Canada.  We are working on expediting regulatory processes for mine production, strengthening spaces for industry-wide dialogue, and creating focused task groups to immediately resolve a backlog of project-specific issues.

One of our priorities is to help enterprises with their residual regulatory matters so that they can move to their next stage of development. Our strategy has been to form teams of senior elite talent and ministry officials that work intensively to solve project specific issues. We want to provide immediate and individualized solutions for operations at an impasse. The teams deal with challenges at all stages of the mining cycle from exploration to closure plans. This is part of our broader strategy to assist with issues that stem from an excess of red tape.

We are working to establish forums that bring together the entire complexion of senior stakeholders in the sector. The aim is to strengthen the dialogue at an industry level and tackle a mining agenda collaboratively. This project will raise visibility for problems and challenges faced in the industry. The Premier left a mandate for this initiative and is continuously updated on its findings.

What is the Ministry doing to reduce the red tape and streamline the mining process?

The “Better for People, Smarter for Business” is our project to make regulations more efficient. It aggregates policies across all ministries and there are four clauses specific to mining. One – creating certainty for proponents submitting a closure plan, by creating a 45-day timeline for the ministry to make a decision. Two – to streamline processes and lessen confusion by amending the regulatory framework. Three – an amendment to the mining rehabilitation code to ensure that it refers to the most recent version of dam safety. Four – improvements to the land mass administration system to make it easier for stakeholders to merge individual claims. The timeline to open a mine is not at the speed of business or commodity markets and we are working to correct this.

How can the authorities help balance mine development with the considerations of Indigenous communities?

Canada’s value proposition is its set of principles and values. We appreciate the unique role of Indigenous communities in the industry and the importance of sharing in the economic benefits. We can never build a mine that is proximal but not accessible to communities, the positive effects of an operation must reach everyone. Mines have the potential to be the life source of a town, bringing job prospects, and kick staring other businesses. In terms of Indigenous consultations, we are developing a standardized approach to memorandums of understanding and impact-benefit agreements. We want to establish bilateral agreements that are standardized, have realistic expectations, and allow for clear timeframes.

Can you comment on the infrastructure plans at the Ring of Fire?

We want to develop a corridor for prosperity. The corridor will link communities and extend access to health and social services as well as technology. The reasons to develop go beyond mining. We know that the mineral profile is world-class and that there is immense potential to create wealth. Because of its resource and size, it can be transformative asset for the province. The province’s role is to provide the opportunity and conditions for the private sector whilst supporting vulnerable communities and showing leadership on the environmental assessment process.

How should the industry address the human resource issue of a growing skills deficit?

Our role as government is to create the conditions that stimulate the workforce for the industry. Skills training and investment that strengthens the learning of trades is a large part of that. Economic immigration and university education in subjects such as engineering and geology, play a part as well. With that being said, I believe there is tremendous opportunity to mobilize an Indigenous workforce. 12% of the mining workforce is Indigenous and I believe this percentage can grow.

How can Toronto retain its position as a global mining leader?

Financial activity is at the genesis of all projects. For this reason, Toronto plays an enormous role worldwide. It is a hub for mining networking and is home to capital markets such as the TSX.

We want to maintain Ontario as one of the most competitive places for exploration and reduce the regulatory burdens for extraction. Our goal is to provide the conditions so that mines can actually open, supporting all stages of the business. Many companies are based here but do not necessarily operate here: I intend to correct this. Incentives and regulatory frameworks play an important role and we are working to address both aspects. Through policy corrections we can energize the sector. I am firm believer that the conditions exist to fuel a bull market. If we provide the right conditions to encourage the industry at a provincial level, the effects will reach Toronto and this will help boost its role as a capital lender worldwide

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