Québec’s ruling government failed to pass new mining laws in the National Assembly tightening its grip on mining companies through higher royalties while forcing miners to process more minerals domestically. In addition, the contentious Bill 43 would have enabled municipalities to veto mining projects while tightening environmental regulations.
This is the third push since 2009 for the law championed by the Parti Québécois, the incumbent government of Canada’s No. 1 French-speaking province since 2012. Royalties of 5% on all gross mining output, plus a 30% surtax on mining profits, would have also been part of the package.
Officials like Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet termed the defeat “completely irresponsible,” for aligning Québec’s mining laws with those in Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador; the law was thwarted through an alliance between Coalition Avenir Québec and opposition Liberals.
Industry advocates, however, hailed the development. These included the Québec Mining Association, which said in a statement that Bill 43 would have “greatly harmed” mining in Québec, according to the Montreal Gazette; altogether, the group had countered with 59 amendment proposals “to maintain a strong mining activity here, respecting people and the environment.”
Liberal mining critic Jean D’Amour, too, said Bill 43’s adoption would have spelled disaster for one of Canada’s most prolific mining regions and, by extension, its economic prosperity. “We have no confidence in this minister,” he told Québécuois reporters.
Québec, Canada’s largest province by geographical area, hosts two dozen mines producing iron ore as well as base and precious metals. Active miners include Rio Tinto, Goldcorp, Glencore Xstrata and Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd., among others; last year, mining companies extracted at least $8.2 billion in minerals, according to government statistics.