Will three be the charm? Quebec makes third attempt to amend mining law – by Drew Hasselback (National Post – July 31, 2013)

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This fall, Quebec’s legislature will consider several proposed amendments to the province’s Mining Act. The question is whether these changes will permanently impact the province’s reputation as a mining friendly jurisdiction.

That stature is already wavering. Each year the Fraser Institute ranks global mining jurisdictions based on their friendliness to investors. This year the province ranked 11th — a fairly strong showing, given that the 2013 survey covers 96 jurisdictions. But for the first time in years, the province didn’t make the top 10. Back in 2010 and 2009, it was even in first place.

“La Belle Province is no longer the belle of the ball it once was among mining jurisdictions,” says Tom Provost, a lawyer in the Montreal office of McMillan LLP.

“Even if it’s trying to do the right thing, the government is unfortunately sending mixed signals about whether Quebec is a mining friendly jurisdiction,” adds Frank Mariage, a lawyer in the Montreal office of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. “Quebec’s ranking on the Fraser Institute list of mining friendly jurisdictions has gone down.”

The government doesn’t deserve all of the blame. The industry is facing numerous challenges: rising costs, weak commodity prices, and uncertain global demand. The industry is also facing pressure to adapt to changes in public attitudes.

“The main focus of the government is to follow up with what they’ve been pushing on several fronts, including social responsibility and sustainable development,” says Marc Dorion, a partner in the Montreal office of McCarthy Tétrault LLP.

A fair number of miners understand the need to amend the province’s mining rules. They might not like specific provisions of the proposed legislation, but a lot of them would be happy to see Quebec finally get a new law in place. Quebec has been wrestling with how to update its mining rules for several years. The previous Liberal government tried twice to amend the province’s Mining Act. Both bills failed to pass before elections. The Parti Québécois formed a minority government in 2012. The new government’s Bill 43 was introduced on May 29. The legislature will likely vote on the bill this fall.

Asked if he thinks the bill will discourage clients from investing in the province, Jean-Philippe Buteau, a lawyer with Norton Rose Canada LLP in Montreal, says: “For the time being, that might be too strong a statement to make. I think mining companies are much more afraid about uncertainty.”

The Quebec government has said it will hold public consultations on the bill in the late summer. Most Quebec lawyers expect the opposition parties will convince the government to make some amendments to win their support.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/07/31/drew-hasselback-will-three-be-the-charm-quebec-makes-third-attempt-to-amend-mining-law/

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