Canada’s Mines Minister, George Pirie, has introduced the Building More Mines Act, which aims to expedite the process of granting mine permits and facilitate the establishment of exploration hotspots for critical raw materials. Pirie acknowledged the lengthy and cumbersome nature of the current permitting process, stating that it often takes several years to obtain necessary approvals. The proposed act seeks to involve industry experts in the decision-making process, streamlining procedures and ensuring faster outcomes.
Under the new legislation, experts known as “qualified persons” would play a significant role in certifying various aspects of mine closure plans. While the ministry would still have the final say, the involvement of qualified persons is expected to expedite the permitting process, aligning it with the pace of business. Pirie emphasized that the act aims to strike a balance between efficient permitting and the obligation to consult with Indigenous communities and uphold environmental regulations.
Critics of the act have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the lack of clarity surrounding the definition of “qualified persons.” However, Pirie reassured that the ministry would continue to provide input on mine plans and retain authority over closure processes, ensuring transparency and accountability.
The act’s broader objective is to position Ontario as a prominent player in the global supply chain for critical minerals, particularly those required for electric vehicle (EV) production. With the growing demand for zero-carbon technologies, the province aims to establish a robust mine-to-EV plant supply chain. The focus areas for exploration include lithium, nickel, platinum group metals, and other essential raw materials.
Pirie stressed the urgency of expediting the mining process, emphasizing that a decade should be the maximum timeline for establishing new mines. The goal is to secure a reliable supply chain for critical minerals and support the transition to sustainable and low-carbon technologies. By fostering exploration hotspots and simplifying permitting procedures, Canada aims to play a pivotal role in the EV revolution while ensuring consultation with Indigenous communities and maintaining environmental stewardship.
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