Mining & Canada … Latin America, First Nations, Mexico


Nickel Rim South Mine, near Sudbury, Ontario, ...

Nickel Rim South Mine, near Sudbury, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  Guest PERSPECTIVE:

The good, the bad and the very, very ugly of Ontario‘s new Mining Act

By: Stan Sudol*
2012-11-08


Ontario’s first Mining Act was passed in 1869 with a significant revision in 1906. Since that time the Act has continuously evolved alongside technological and environmental changes and political and public demands.

So let’s start with some of the good news. There is a new on-line Mining Act Awareness Program that sooner or later every current and new explorer will have to take. A non-issue!

First Nations communities are now able to withdraw sites of Aboriginal significance so mining claims cannot be staked. This is a terrific idea eliminating potential conflict.

MNDM will also be conducting 44 workshops in strategically located in Aboriginal communities to help educate communities about the mineral sector.

Individuals or companies can now rehabilitate existing mine hazards they did not create and not be liable for pre-existing environmental issues.

Plans are also in the works to provide funding for Aboriginal Mineral Technical Officers who will be located in First Nations communities to deal with plans and permit applications. However, they have not decided on the number, and due to resource constraints, I fear too few will be hired.

Now let’s get to the bad and very, very ugly issues.

You will now be expected to fill out exploration plans and exploration permits that will highlight your activities over the next two and three years respectively. These plans and permits will be vetted by First Nations, surface rights owners and the general public.

In a perfect world, if no problems arise, it will take 30 or 50 days to get approval for these plans and permits. If there are problems, be prepared for significant and costly delays. And what is to prevent environmental groups from using this process to needlessly delay exploration activities that have very low impact on the environment?

In addition, the timeframe of these documents do not reflect the usual operating procedures of explorationists. Who knows where they will be drilling in two or three years? So any changes to these plans must go through the same 30 or 50 day process.

Expect a lot of additional paperwork and potential holdups for activities that have very little impact on the environment even if you have engaged with First Nations communities at an early stage.

Many small junior companies have only three to five employees and subcontract much of the field work to contractors and consultants.

Demanding investors, flow-through share funding time limits, spectacular or terrible drill results all require agility and rapid decision making to exploit opportunities as they occur.

Many small juniors and First Nations communities presently don’t have the capacity or the financial ability to handle the enormous increase in regulations and red tape.

Furthermore, this is an enormously risky time to implement these changes. Global financial instability has caused enormous volatility on stock markets putting downward pressure on stock values. This has been a brutal year to try to raise funds for juniors and many fear these changes will cause a significant migration to other provinces or international jurisdictions.

Now let’s touch upon the real elephant in the room that these changes do not address.

That issue is the additional payments to First Nations communities that are used purely as an “access or permission fee” for explorers to work on their claims. These fees are roughly averaging two or three per cent of exploration budgets. Many in the First Nations communities feel this is an acceptable form of “taxation” due to disruptions on their traditional territories or a way of establishing self-sufficiency.

This is a highly contentious issue throughout the exploration sector ranging from hardliners to the more pragmatic that have factored in these fees as an additional cost of doing business. However, everyone is concerned about the increasing escalation of these financial demands and if they become too high, some juniors may have no choice but to leave the province.

MNDM does not condone these fees yet is doing nothing about them.

So where do we go from here?

A vital first start is to find some consensus among ourselves that these additional payments have now become a cost of doing business. Unfortunately, the barn door is now open and you are not going to get those horses back in.

Industry and government reps should then meet with the First Nations leadership from the various tribal councils, NAN, Union of Ontario Indians and Grand Council of Treaty 3 to hammer out a consistent and transparent fee schedule.

Then ensure that government ministries will treat these “fees” as expenses that can be tax deductible.

A second valuable initiative is for MNDM to fund Aboriginal Mineral Technical Officers in most of the First Nations communities throughout northern Ontario. Some of these individuals should be able to be responsible for two or three reserves that may be very small or not in a currently active exploration area.

Train these individuals on how to efficiently deal with the plans and permits. In addition, they should also be responsible for educating their respective communities about the exploration and mining sectors.

And finally, since this knowledge/capacity does not currently exist in most First Nations communities, we must delay the mandatory requirements start up on April 1, 2013, for an addition six months or a year. During that time period, we could implement these initiatives and work out any potential bottlenecks or problems with the least amount of disruption.

The exploration industry was worth slightly over one billion dollars in 2011 and is the critical starting point for Ontario’s $11 billion mining sector.

It’s worth delaying the “mandatory” requirement of the new Mining Act regulations to get this right, especially during a cyclical downturn in the industry!

No one ever said this business was an easy one. There is enormous risk, but enormous gain as well.

However take heart, even though the entire global mining industry is slowing down, the commodity super cycle is still with us. Over the next few decades, as billions of people in China, India and the rest of the developing world become middle class consumers, the demand for metals will only continue to grow. Northern Ontario – including First Nations communities with economic challenges – can be the beneficiaries of this enormous global transformation, with the high-paying jobs that come from new mines.

But we need to meet, talk and come to a consensus that will benefit both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

The wealth is definitely there but we need to allow the prospectors and junior explorers access to the land to find these future mines that will eventually provide long-term, well-pay jobs to many Aboriginal communities.

*Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant, speechwriter and columnist who blogs at www.republicofmining.com. These remarks are from a speech given at the Ontario Prospectors Association: 2012 Ontario Exploration & Geoscience Symposium in Sudbury Ontario, Nov. 6, 2012.

Emergency call to Save Blair Mountain …Amanda Starbuck, Rainforest Action Network


Rainforest Action Network
Tell Arch Coal To Stop Mining Blair Mountain
Blair Mt
Take Action

Mountaintop removal coal mining is destroying the mountains and threatening the health and lives of communities across Appalachia. But people in Appalachia are standing up and today they need your support.

Residents of Blair, West Virginia have noticed increased activity from mining company Arch Coal around Blair Mountain — site of the largest labor uprising in American history. Residents are becoming increasingly concerned about Arch’s activities and fear they will move forward with plans to mine the historic location.

Take action today – call Arch Coal to save Blair Mountain.

Arch Coal has four planned operations on Blair Mountain, some of which intrude onto the battlefield. Today, this multi-billion dollar company will announce its profits from the fourth quarter of last year. Whatever those earnings are, the company has a responsibility to the community in which it operates.

Folks in Appalachia won’t stand for Arch Coal’s plan to destroy their community and our nation’s history just so the coal company can increase its profit margin, and we shouldn’t either.

Call Arch CEO, Steven Leer, today and tell him that Appalachian communities should not fall victim to pad his profit margin.

Call Arch’s St. Louis headquarters: (314) 994-2700
Call Arch’s Charleston, WV headquarters: (304) 760-2400

To allow Arch Coal to destroy Blair Mountain would be to tear out a crucial page of American labor history and burn it. But even more important than the history are the lives of the people living at the foot of this mountain today.

Amanda

For the mountains and for healthy communities,

Amanda Starbuck
Energy & Finance Program Director
Twitter: @DirtyEnergy

Don’t surface mine Livingston Mountain


We strongly urge the Board of Commissioners to accept the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission to remove Livingston Mountain from the proposed update to the Surface Mining Overlay. The residential density of Livingston Mountain, along with unsuitable roads for this type of operation, makes this area a completely inappropriate area for mining.

The negative impacts to residents in an area around a mining operation include dangerous traffic conditions; loss of peace and tranquility due to the use of noisy, heavy trucks; damage to structures from shockwaves caused by mining explosions; and health hazards from silica-rich gravel dust.  Additionally, mining operations have a severe impact to the surrounding area’s surface water runoff, as well as the underground aquifers, wells, and wetlands in the area.

Given that there is already a mining concession on Livingston Mountain which is detrimental to this part of Clark County, we implore the Commissioners to take the necessary steps to ensure proper monitoring and enforcement of standards that protect public safety, water quality, noise, and traffic concerns that hurt the public good.  We support appointing a mining ombudsman to oversee the current mining operation to ensure compliance with appropriate public safety standards.

Finally, we insist that if there be any future proposals for mining on Livingston Mountain that they continue to be subjected to the legislative type IV land use review standards since these standards offer the greatest opportunity for public input.

                   Clark County Commissioners : Remove Livingston Mountain from the proposed update to the Surface Mining Overlay. 

  By Friends of Livingston Mountian
                                                Estacada, Oregon

Sierra Club


Climate Change Hits Home   Climate Change Comes Home

Ten days ago, for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune visited the beachfront community in New Jersey where he grew up. The damage was so extensive that the area is closed off and there is still no power or clean water. Brune’s family and their neighbors were allowed to enter the barrier island for just seven hours.

Visit our new website, Climate Comes Home, to read what he and others had to say and see the devastation.

Photo: Julie Dermansky


Huge Victory for Our MountainsOne can only imagine what John Muir would have thought of mountaintop removal coal mining. But he’d certainly have celebrated this month’s announcement that the Patriot Coal Corporation has entered into an agreement with the Sierra Cluband other environmental groups to end its involvement in this destructive practice. But other coal companies are moving forward with plans to blow the tops off mountains and bury streams all across Appalachia.Send a message to the EPA, letting them know that protecting Appalachia from destructive coal mining should be a top priority for the next Obama administration.

1872!? … Elijah Zarlin, CREDO Action


Tell Congress: Update the Mining Law of 1872!

Chicago Peak is located in Western Montana‘s Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area, and is a holy place for the Salish and Kootenai native tribes.

In other words: It’s a terrible location for a massive proposed copper and silver mine.1

But under the shockingly antiquated General Mining Law of 1872, the National Forest Service says it has no choice but to approve the mine. Even worse, this relic of a law will hand nearly $20 billion dollars worth of publicly owned minerals to Canadian company Revett Minerals, totally for free.2 We get nothing.

This mine is only one example. Overall, Congress’s failure to update our 140-year-old mining law is one of the most egregious, expensive and destructive failures in federal land management.

Tell Congress: It is long past time to update the General Mining Law of 1872!

The General Mining Law of 1872 is literally an artifact of another era. In 1872, Women could not vote in America. There were only 37 States in the Union. And our government sought to settle the vast Western territories by handing out mining rights to fortune-seeking settlers.

Yet today, this relic continues to govern hard rock mining of metals like copper, uranium, silver and gold. The result is a massive giveaway to giant mining companies that rips off taxpayers to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Under the law:3

• Mining leases can be purchased at 1872 prices of $2.50 – $5 an acre.
• Companies can mine publicly owned mineral resources without paying any royalties. We just give it away!
Federal land managers must prioritize mining over all other land uses.
• The law contains NO environmental protections — which has led to the pollution of more than 40% of Western U.S. watershed, and left us holding the bill for an estimated more than $30 billion in mine cleanup and reclamation.

Tell Congress: Update the Mining Law of 1872!

Tell Congress: Update the Mining Law of 1872! Click here to automatically sign the petition.

 In today’s world of giant, international mining conglomerates using massive pieces of equipment and polluting huge volumes of water to rip up the earth — as opposed to Wild West times of risk-taking prospectors and their pack mules seeking fortune – this law should be a page in history books, not our actual law books!

Congress has twice tried and failed to reform the law. But it’s long past time for an updated mining law that allows land managers to protect unique public lands from mining, implements strong environmental standards for mines, collects funds for mining reclamation, and puts a fair royalty on the extraction of these publicly owned resources.4

It is crazy that our mining law pre-dates the invention of the telephone and the light bulb. Tell Congress to update this massive giveaway, the General Mining Law of 1872.

1. “Big Mine. Bigger Trouble,” Rock Creek Aliance
2. “A Sacred Peak With Rich Ore Deposits,” New York Times, April 9, 2012
3. “General Mining Law of 1872,” Earthworks
4. “1872 Mining Law Reform Requirements,” Earthworks