Hopes of greater stability in wake of Quebec’s new Mining Act – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – February 5, 2014)

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TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – After several years of proposed changes to Quebec’s Mining Act, it seems this saga of near Homeric-length is nearing its close. Where Bills 43, 79 and 14 all failed, Bill 70 to amend and modernise the Act was adopted on December 9, becoming effective a day later.

Commentators now hope the province’s mining sector will be able to get on with the business of doing business, and without having to look over its shoulder.

Many of the amendments contained in Bill 70 and now within the new Mining Act came as little surprise. This includes the need for those seeking to make a mining claim to notify the landowner concerned, and if appropriate any tenants, within 60 days of registering the claim.

If the claim is within municipal territory the claim holder must inform the landowner and municipality within 30 days. In addition, the claim holder must submit a report on the work achieved over the previous year and supply a schedule for the year ahead with the Mining Minister.

Those who hold mining leases, concessions or operating leases for surface minerals must also report the volume and value of the ore extracted over the previous year and the level of royalties paid, plus overall contributions made.

“Companies will be checked on a regular basis by the Minister, who will keep an eye on how things are going and what is planned,” Norton Rose Fulbright partner Jean-Philippe Buteau told Mining Weekly Online.

Buteau’s expertise includes mergers and acquisitions, public financing, private placements and securities.

“It’s in the spirit of the law to have more clarity and more information on projects, their results, and on the level of ore processed from a mining claim,” he added.

A central platform of the new Mining Act is for companies to consider a greater level of transformation, processing and beneficiation to be undertaken within Quebec. The Minister will now have the power, on reasonable grounds, to require the maximised economic spin-off for material mined in Quebec.

“I think the government wants to reserve this right. But in practise, the decisions will be based on the economics of the project itself and whether imposing something like second or third transformation within Quebec will affect project viability,” Buteau said.

“So, I don’t see how a government can impose terms and conditions if studies and additional reports from a company show that it wouldn’t be economic to undertake second and third transformation in Quebec,” he explained.

“Enforcing or obliging a company to undertake second and third transformation in Quebec would bear the risk of the company just leaving,” he added.

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