Long-awaited changes to Ontario’s Mining Act and Aggregate Resources Act passed

Written by on May 15, 2017. Posted in Environmental laws, Health and environment

Ontario has introduced changes to the Aggregate Resources Act and the Mining Act. After years of work and consultations, the changes will come into effect once royal assent is obtained.

The Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act introduced numerous changes to both of these Acts that are designed to facilitate the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’s ongoing “modernization” efforts.

Among other changes, the Aggregate Resources Act will:

  • compel the Minister to consider whether first nation communities have been adequately consulted before making any approval decisions that could impact Aboriginal or treaty rights. Previously, the Act made no mention of the Crown’s duty to consult, an omission identified as a deficiency of the previous version of the Act (now section 3.1);
  • compel the Minister to be mindful, in considering whether a licence ought to be issued, of any impacts upon drinking water sources. The previous provisions of the Act required consideration of impacts upon “ground and surface water resources,” but not specifically upon drinking water (now section 12(1)(e));
  • remove some annual report requirements (including providing a copy to municipalities where the applicable site is located), though licencees will still be required to submit annual reports (section 15.1);
  • allow the Minister to revoke a licence under certain additional circumstances (section 20(1)); and
  • offer some clarity as to when an aggregate permit is required, particularly in the case of topsoil removal (section 34).

Most of the changes to the Mining Act are to facilitate conversion of the existing manual ground-and-paper staking system to an online one focused on registration as opposed to staking. The changes include:

  • clarification of the definition of “anniversary date” (section 1);
  • repeal of the definitions of “ground staking,” “map staking,” and “in place” and the addition of new definitions for the online system (section 1);
  • amendment of the definition of “mining claim” to refer to land on which a claim has been registered, as opposed to land that has been staked and recorded (section 1); and
  • introduction a new system for the registration of mining claims (section 38).