Prospector president calls for reform of Mining Act – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – April 15, 2015)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business

Gino Chitaroni wonders if prospectors are becoming a vanishing breed in Northern Ontario. He blames over-reaching government policy, onerous regulations and unsolved issues with First Nations for gutting the grassroots heart of the mining sector.

The president of the Northern Prospectors Association said their monthly meetings have devolved into “bitch sessions” with grievances over changes to the Ontario Mining Act and something must be done to turn the tide in industry’s favour.

The introduction two years ago of so-called Plans and Permits haven’t been well-received by the exploration community and he finds there is an exodus of prospectors who are pulling up stakes and leaving Ontario for other jurisdictions.

“It’s gotten to the point where our whole way of life of exploration is completely threatened.” Changes to the Mining Act and the introduction of new legislation like the Far North Act, he said, were done with little consultation with Northerners and industry, and is proof of the disconnect between this region and the south.

“It’s a continual assault against trying to do business in Northern Ontario.”

As the owner of a Cobalt assay lab, Chitaroni finds grassroots exploration has died out completely in Temiskaming. At one time, pure exploration core represented close to half of his throughput.

“I have not seen a serious program of core from basic diamond drilling come to us in two years.” If not for some advanced projects and the nearby operating mines, “we would be up for sale within weeks.”

Without new exploration to cultivate the next of generation mines, Chitaroni said Northern communities will ultimately suffer in the long run.

The global exploration financing market is tough, he concedes, but the plans and permits protocol has downloaded consultation with First Nations onto the exploration companies, and created unnecessary costs by adding weeks and months to negotiations on exploration permits.

What frustrates him the most is the province’s refusal to truly engage with First Nations.

Though he doesn’t argue against Aboriginal participation in resource development – “forever they were bypassed on all these decisions” – he contends the province has shirked its constitutional responsibility to govern its own natural resources.

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