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Relaunching the Northern Plan

The Northern Plan will focus on the integrated and coherent development of the area covered by the Northern Plan which includes all of Québec located north of the 49th degree of north latitude and north of the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There are several mining exploration projects and major mining projects at various stages of development in the north, some of which require significant access to infrastructures. The Government of Quebec intends to take steps to facilitate the implementation of mining and other projects in the area. With confirmation by the Government of Québec of its intention to relaunch the Northern Plan by introducing Bill 11, An Act respecting the Société du Plan Nord, on September 30, 2014, the implementation of the Northern Plan continues. Bill 11 reiterates the majority of the elements included in the former Bill 27, An Act respecting the Société du Plan Nord, introduced in 2011, which was examined by a parliamentary committee. However, Bill 11 contains new elements and incorporates differences when compared to the previous version as outlined in Relaunching the Northern Plan: Introduction of the Bill to establish the Société du Plan Nord. Mr. Couillard’s government seems determined to proceed with the implementation of all mechanisms required for the orderly deployment of the Northern Plan while the mining sector and international business community continue to demonstrate interest in this major plan.

Relaunching the Northern Plan

The Government of Québec imposes a temporary moratorium on uranium exploration and development

On March 28th, Québec Environment minister Yves-François Blanchet announced that the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) will hold public hearings on the uranium sector in Québec. These hearings are scheduled for the Fall of 2013 and will focus on the environmental and social impacts of exploration and mining of uranium in Québec. The Minister also indicated that no authorization certificates for uranium exploration or mining projects in Québec will be issued until the BAPE’s independent study is completed and its report is issued.

The Minister stressed the importance for the Government to respect the principles relating to the protection of the social environment and the protection of Aboriginal peoples, their societies, their communities and their economy. Aboriginal organizations will therefore be invited to play a significant role in the consultation. The Minister indicated that the BAPE’s study will be conducted in collaboration with the review committees and advisory committees provided for in the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement, the Northeastern Québec Agreement and the Environment Quality Act.

The Government’s press release is available here (in French only): http://www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca/infuseur/communique.asp?no=2383

This article was written by Ann Bigué and Dominique Quirk.

The Government of Québec imposes a temporary moratorium on uranium exploration and development

Consultation document for changes to the Québec mining royalties regime now available

Following the announcement that a forum on mining royalties will be held on March 15th, 2013 in Montréal, the Québec Ministries of Finance and Economy and of Natural Resources have made available, on March 8th, a consultation document entitled “Le régime d’impôt minier du Québec”. This document includes information on the mining sector in Québec and on the operation of the current Québec mining tax regime.

The Québec Mining Association and the Québec Mineral Exploration Association as well as several mining companies, groups and experts will be invited to provide their opinion and suggestions on this question. The consultations will culminate in the forum on mining royalties which will be co-presided by Mr. Jacques Fortin (HEC Montréal) and Mr. Pierre Lasserre (UQAM-CIRANO).

The consultation document is available here (in French only): http://www.finances.gouv.qc.ca/documents/autres/fr/AUTFR_RegimeMinier.pdf

This article was written by Ann Bigué and Dominique Quirk.

Consultation document for changes to the Québec mining royalties regime now available

Quebec tightens rules on financial guarantee requirements for rehabilitation and restoration plans

On February 13, 2013, a notice was published in the Gazette officielle du Québec by the Minister of Natural Resources, Martine Ouellet, announcing amendments to the Regulation respecting mineral substances other than petroleum, natural gas and brine (the “Regulation”). All of these amendments pertain to the rules applicable to financial guarantee requirements for rehabilitation and restoration plans under Section 231 and following of the Quebec Mining Act.

The draft regulation amends the Regulation by increasing from 70% to 100% the financial guarantee required to ensure performance of the work required by the rehabilitation and restoration plan and by broadening the scope of the guarantee from being required only for the rehabilitation and restoration of accumulation areas (for mineral substances, overburden, concentrates and tailings), to being required for the rehabilitation and restoration of the entire mine site.

The payment schedule for the financial guarantee will also be amended for companies who are currently engaging in exploration work as well as for those engaging in mining operations or operating a concentration plant.

In the case of companies engaging in exploration work, under the current Regulation, the total guarantee must be submitted within 15 days after the rehabilitation plan is approved, if the exploration work is expected to last 1 year or less, or the financial guarantee can be submitted in annual payments if the exploration work is expected to last more than 1 year. The amendments now provide that every holder of mining rights who engages in exploration work must provide the financial guarantee to the Minister before the beginning of exploration work.

For operators engaging in mining operations in respect of tailings or mineral substances set out in the regulations, or operating a concentration plant, the current Regulation provides that their annual payments will be made according to rules set forth in a table. However, the amendments to the Regulation provide that the guarantee must now be submitted to the Minister in three payments, the first of which would represent 50% of the total guarantee and would be paid in the 90 days after approval of the rehabilitation plan is received. The subsequent payments of 25% each would be made on the anniversary date of approval.

The draft regulation also reviews certain forms of financial guarantee and requires the filing of a restoration plan for the movement of 1000 m3 or more of unconsolidated deposits.

The new amendments will also apply to operators who are currently engaging in mining operations or operating a concentration plant and whose restoration plan has been approved prior to the draft regulation coming into force. These operators will also have to provide the financial guarantee for the restoration of the mine site in three payments, the first payment being required at the latest one year after the draft regulation comes into force.

The draft regulation is set to come into force on February 28, 2013.

The current Regulation is available here:  http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/documents/lr/M_13_1/M13_1R2_A.htm

The draft regulation is available here:http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=1&file=2462.pdf

This article was written by Ann Bigué and Dominique Quirk.

Quebec tightens rules on financial guarantee requirements for rehabilitation and restoration plans

Quebec Government announces Forum on Mining Royalties, March 15th, 2013

Québec Minister of Finance and Economy Nicolas Marceau and Québec Minister of Natural Resources Martine Ouellet announce that a forum on mining royalties will be held on March 15th, 2013 in Montréal, during which the mining industry and groups affected by this issue will be consulted.

This announcement made at the Strategic Forum on natural resources which was held in Montréal on February 8th, 2013, follows the commitments undertaken by the Parti Québécois during the last election campaign to raise mining royalties. The forum will enable the parties to agree on the “best way to get there”, said Minister Marceau.

In his speech announcing the forum on mining royalties, Minister Marceau indicated that the following principles are guiding the Québec Government: royalties must be increased, the extracted mineral must generate royalties in all cases, the most profitable projects must generate more royalties and transformation in Québec must be encouraged. He also indicated that the challenge is to find the balance between maximizing royalties, maximizing investments and maximizing employment in the mining sector.

A consultation document will be made available by March 1st and will be available on the Ministry websites. The document will include information on the mining sector, on the operation of the current Québec mining tax regime and on the total amount of royalties collected from mining companies in Québec.

The Québec Mining Association and the Québec Mineral Exploration Association as well as several mining companies, groups and experts will be invited to provide their opinion and suggestions on this question. These consultations will culminate in the forum on mining royalties which will be co-presided by Mr. Jacques Fortin (HEC Montréal) and Mr. Pierre Lasserre (UQAM-CIRANO).

Minister Marceau also indicated that the Québec Government will be able to announce the details of the new royalty regime in early spring.

The press release is available in French only: http://www.finances.gouv.qc.ca/documents/Communiques/fr/COMFR_20130208.pdf

Minister Marceau’s speech from the Strategic Forum on natural resources is available in French only: http://www.finances.gouv.qc.ca/documents/Communiques/fr/COMFR_Allocution20130208.pdf

This article was written by Ann Bigué and Dominique Quirk

Quebec Government announces Forum on Mining Royalties, March 15th, 2013