A mining and exploration retrospect for April 6 to 12, 2013
by Greg Klein
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Projects go under, under new Ontario law
“We’re not working in Ontario any longer and, yes, that’s because of these regulations.” Friday’s Toronto Star quoted Wally Rayner, VP of exploration for Mineral Mountain Resources TSXV:MMV, on the provincial Mining Act amendments that took full effect April 1.
Gone is the free entry system. In its place are requirements that companies and individual prospectors file plans with the government for even the earliest-stage work. That’s followed by a minimum 30-day period for public comments. Prospectors and explorers are now specifically required to consult and accommodate aboriginals. “Many find the regulations too onerous for an industry already in dire financial straits,” the Star reported.
Last month, even before the new regs took hold, Solid Gold Resources TSXV:SLD was denied an exploration permit in what the company said “appears to be a politically motivated abuse of power and indicates the unfair political interference that permeates the new exploration regime.” Now trading for a penny, the company has had uneasy relations with a Timmins-region native band.
Last February International Millennium Mining TSXV:IMI backed out of an option on its Hope Lake property, saying “the constraints of Ontario’s modernized Mining Act provided incentive for ending the agreement.”
Mineral Mountain’s Rayner also told the Star that delays jeopardize spending deadlines mandated by flow-through shares. “If the exploration is held up because of consultations or permits, then this whole financing system falls apart,” he said.
The reporter added, “The Ontario Bar Association echoed that concern in a submission to the ministry last year.”
The new act presents problems for natives too. Shawn Batise, executive director of the Wabun Tribal Council, told the Star his group has been overwhelmed with requests for consultation. “Today we got 12 requests, eight yesterday, six the day before, 20 last week…”
As for Quebec …
Over 10,000 people signed a petition expressing concern about possible changes to the province’s royalties structure, the Quebec Mining Association announced on Tuesday. Following a round of talks with industry reps, the Parti Quebecois government now ponders a 5% tax on the gross value of annual mine production and a 30% royalty on yet-to-be-defined “super profits.”
“Quebec has already the highest royalties and corporate tax rates among all the main mineral-producing provinces in Canada,” the QMA stated.
QMA president/CEO Josée Méthot added, “The damage caused to the Quebec economy could be far greater than the benefits derived from an increase in royalties.”
But in Saskatchewan …
One provincial government has actually cut royalties. Saskatchewan’s new system re-evaluates uranium mining costs in a manner that will slash taxes by about $15 million a year, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported on Tuesday. Premier Brad Wall discussed the revamped royalties at the offices of Cameco Corp TSX:CCO, where he joined federal politicians to announce a uranium trade deal with India. Canada had banned uranium exports to the country in 1974, after it used a Canadian-made reactor to create plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
Following a recent and similar deal with China, the India agreement “will mean literally billions of dollars worth of sales of Saskatchewan uranium into these two markets,” the StarPhoenix quoted Wall.
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