Mining Prospects

Trends and Developments in Mining Law in Canada and Internationally

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Free, Prior and Informed Consent – Where does Canada go from here?

Posted in Aboriginal and Environmental Issues, Environmental Issues, Mining
Stephanie AxmannBryn Gray

In 2015, Canada’s new federal government committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration). This has generated significant attention in the mining and natural resource sectors due to the Declaration’s potential incompatibility with Canada’s constitutional and legal framework for Aboriginal rights and consultation, particularly the potentially broad interpretation of “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC) as a veto right against resource development and administrative and legislative decision-making. While FPIC is a potential game changer, ultimately its impact in Canada will depend on how it is interpreted.

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Québec Budget 2016-2017 Announces Amendments to the Mining Tax Act and to the Refundable Tax Credit for Resources

Posted in Mining, Tax
Ryan RabinovitchAngelo DiscepolaAndrew Haikal

A number of mining-related (and largely taxpayer-friendly) amendments were introduced by the Québec Government as part of its 2016-2017 Budget. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of these amendments and their expected impact on companies engaged in mining activities in Québec.
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50/50 JVs – Paved with Good Intentions

Posted in Dispute Resolution, M&A, Mining
Adam WankeRoger Taplin

One of the most difficult things to plan for effectively in any joint venture is conflict resolution and decision deadlock between the joint venture partners.  Joint venture agreements in the mining industry can be voluminous documents.  Pages are devoted to calculating partner dilution, setting out partner rights, outlining how and by whom JV operations will be managed.  At the same time, little thought is often given to how the partners will deal with a deadlock over an operational decision.

In a way it is not surprising that mechanics dealing with decision deadlock can be an afterthought – most CEOs want to plan for success.  However, spending some time thinking about how a JV partner can break a deadlock long before a deadlock occurs is a wise investment; this especially rings true in the case of a 50/50 JV where no single party will be able to make any decision, major or minor, without the agreement of its JV partner.

This article outlines some of the mechanics we have seen used in 50/50 JVs by companies in the mining industry to resolve a deadlock or to solve a dispute.  While it is often the case that parties in 50/50 JVs will spend more time thinking of solutions to deadlock than those in non 50/50 JVs, the concepts described below can be applied in almost any type of JV.

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Sign of the Times: 177 Nations (and counting) Ink the Paris Climate Agreement while the World Bank and IMF Push for Carbon Pricing

Posted in Environmental Issues
Selina Lee-Andersen

The following post by Selina Lee-Andersen on our Canadian ERA Perspectives blog may be of interest to readers of this blog:  Sign of the Times: 177 Nations (and counting) Ink the Paris Climate Agreement while the World Bank and IMF Push for Carbon Pricing

Earth Day 2016 – April 22nd – marked the opening of the Paris Agreement for signature at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. The Paris Agreement, which was adopted by the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on December 12, 2015, will remain open for signature until April 21, 2017.

Alberta Moves Forward with Climate Change Initiatives in Budget 2016

Posted in Environmental Issues
Selina Lee-Andersen

The following post by Selina Lee-Andersen on our Canadian ERA Perspectives blog may be of interest to readers of this blog:  Alberta Moves Forward with Climate Change Initiatives in Budget 2016

As part of its strategy to kick-start the economy, the Alberta government has earmarked almost $8.5 billion in its latest budget to build and modernize major public infrastructure. Released on April 14, 2016, Budget 2016 allocates $634 million to various climate change initiatives in addition to funds for roads and bridges, flood recovery and municipal infrastructure support.

Federal Government Introduces Administrative Penalty Regulations for Six Environmental Statutes

Posted in Environmental Issues
Joanna RosengartenNicholas Hughes

The following post by Joanna Rosengarten and Nicholas Hughes on our Canadian ERA Perspectives blog may be of interest to readers of this blog: Federal Government Introduces Administrative Penalty Regulations for Six Environmental Statutes

In 2010, the federal government introduced The Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act (EVAMPA), which provided Environment Canada with the authority to issue Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) for certain offences. The government has now introduced proposed regulations, the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations (the “Regulations”), which set-out the details of the AMPs regime under the EVAMPA.

First Phase of Water Sustainability Act Comes into Force

Posted in Mining
Selina Lee-AndersenMonika Sawicka

The following post by Selina Lee-Andersen and Monika Sawicka on our Canadian ERA Perspectives blog may be of interest to readers of this blog: First Phase of Water Sustainability Act Comes into Force.

The British Columbia Government has finally brought into effect portions of the long awaited Water Sustainability Act (WSA). The WSA, which was passed by the British Columbia Legislature in April 2014, came into effect on February 29, 2016. The WSA replaces many parts of the old Water Act and creates a new regulatory regime for water management within British Columbia.

The Province is taking a phased approach to the enactment of the WSA. While the majority of the WSA came into effect at the end of February, Part 18, which provides for quick licensing procedures, has yet to be brought into force. The Province predicts the next phase of the regulations and policies will be brought into effect in late 2016. This phase will include regulations relating to measuring and reporting, livestock watering, water objectives, planning and governance. Continue Reading

McCarthy Tétrault releases sixth annual Mining in the Courts

Posted in Class Actions, Mining

McT_Mining_in_the_Courts_Book_Cover_JAN2016_3DWe are pleased to bring you the newest edition of our popular book, Mining in the Courts, Year in Review. Developed by McCarthy Tétrault, Mining in the Courts, Year in Review, Vol. VI provides an overview of legal developments and case law updates on matters that impacted the mining sector in the past year, and offers our perspective and insights on issues important to the industry. The publication is ideally suited to mining executives and in-house counsel looking to understand the impact of recent decisions on their business and investment strategies.

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Québec : Publication du livre vert sur l’acceptabilité sociale

Posted in Aboriginal and Environmental Issues, Mining
Pierre LangloisMartin Thiboutot

Le ministre de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles du Québec et ministre responsable du Plan Nord, Pierre Arcand, a rendu public le 16 février dernier un livre vert sur l’acceptabilité sociale. Le document, intitulé Orientations du ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles en matière d’acceptabilité sociale (le « Livre vert »), s’inscrit dans le Chantier de l’acceptabilité sociale lancé en novembre 2014 par le ministre Arcand portant spécifiquement sur les projets de mise en valeur des ressources minérales.

Le Livre vert fut élaboré à partir, notamment, des constats énoncés dans le rapport de Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton en collaboration avec Transfert Environnement et Société, mandatés par le ministre Arcand pour conduire une analyse des pratiques et outils du ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (le « MERN ») et pour tenir des tables de discussion auxquelles ont pris part des élus locaux, des parties prenantes du secteur et des citoyens. Ce rapport, rappelons-le, a noté que l’acceptabilité sociale, malgré l’absence de définition consensuelle s’y rapportant, ne signifiait pas un appui unanime, mais requérait plus qu’un processus de consultation.

Le Livre vert énonce les cinq orientations proposées par le MERN :

  • Mieux faire connaître les rôles et les responsabilités du MERN en matière de planification et de gestion du territoire;
  • Rendre plus transparents et plus participatifs les mécanismes de planification et de conciliation des usages dans les plans d’affectation du territoire public (PATP) et les actualiser;
  • Assurer la mise en place de processus prévisibles d’information et de consultation à toutes les étapes d’un projet;
  • Favoriser un partage des bénéfices des projets de développement énergétique et minier avec les communautés d’accueil;
  • Renforcer la capacité d’analyse du MERN sur les impacts, les retombées économiques et les répercussions des projets en assurant la prise en compte des facteurs d’acceptabilité sociale.

Ces cinq orientations se déclinent chacune en objectifs et actions spécifiques. Parmi celles-ci, nous notons :

  • Création d’une équipe de gestion des projets majeurs au sein du MERN
  • Création d’un bureau indépendant d’analyse économique des projets
  • Élaboration de guides de bonnes pratiques, notamment en matière d’entente de partenariat entre promoteurs et communautés non autochtones
  • Élaboration de lignes directrices à l’intention des promoteurs, qui tiennent compte notamment des facteurs d’acceptabilité sociale des projets
  • Mise en place d’une politique ministérielle en matière de consultation des communautés locales
  • Bonification du cadre légal et réglementaire notamment au regard des garanties et des protections, en cas d’impacts imprévus des projets, et de la remise en état des sites désaffectés

Ces orientations, selon le MERN, « proposent des changements importants et de nouvelles façons de faire pour le MERN ». Il sera intéressant de voir comment ces changements se concrétiseront et quels impacts ils auront pour les différentes parties prenantes.

Le Livre vert fut bien accueilli par l’Association minière du Québec, le Conseil patronal de l’environnement du Québec de même que le Conseil du patronat du Québec.

Le gouvernement envisage maintenant la tenue de consultations particulières en commission parlementaire en vue de valider ces orientations. Ces consultations devraient se tenir au printemps.

Quebec : Publication of the Green Paper on Social Acceptability

Posted in Aboriginal and Environmental Issues, Mining
Pierre LangloisMartin Thiboutot

The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Plan Nord, Pierre Arcand, made public, on February 16, a Green Paper on social acceptability. The document, entitled Guidelines of the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles in the Area of Social Acceptability (the “Green Paper”), is part of the broad-based workshop on the social acceptability launched in November 2014 by the Minister Arcand focusing specifically on mineral resource development projects.

The Green Paper was prepared, in particular, from the observations pointed out in the report (only available in French) by Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton in collaboration with Transfert Environnement et Société, instructed by the Minister Arcand to conduct a review of current practices and tools at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (“MENR”) and to hold discussion panels which were attended by local elected representatives, stakeholders and citizens. The report, we recall, noted that social acceptability, despite the absence of a consensus definition thereon, did not mean unanimous support, but required more than consultation.

The Green Paper outlines the five following guidelines proposed by the MENR:

  1. Make the MENR’s roles and responsibilities in the area of land use planning and land management better known.
  2. Make the mechanisms for land planning and land use harmonization contained in public land use plans (PATPs) more transparent, participatory and up-to-date.
  3. Establish predictable information and consultation processes at all project stages.
  4. Promote the sharing of benefits from energy and mining development projects with host communities.
  5. Enhance the MENR’s ability to analyze the impacts, economic benefits and repercussions of projects by taking social acceptability factors into account.

These five guidelines are each divided into specific objectives and actions. Among these, we note:

  • Creating a major project management team inside the MENR
  • Creating an independent office for the economic analysis of projects
  • Develop a good practice guide for partnerships, in particular between promoters and non-Aboriginal communities
  • Draft guidelines for use by promoters in developing projects that take their social acceptability factors into account
  • Establish a departmental policy for the consultation of local communities
  • Improve the legislative and regulatory framework governing guarantees and protection for unforeseen project impacts, and the rehabilitation of closed sites

These guidelines, according to the MENR, “propose some major changes and new approaches for the MENR”. It will be interesting to see how these changes will be implemented and what impact they will have on the various stakeholders.

The Green Paper was well received by the Quebec Mining Association (Association minière du Québec), the Quebec Business Council on the Environment (Conseil patronal de l’environnement du Québec) as well as the Quebec Employers Council (Conseil du patronat du Québec).

The government now plans to hold special consultations in parliamentary committee to validate these guidelines. These consultations should be held next spring.