In December 2011, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (“MNDM”) issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the delivery of new Aboriginal education program on mineral exploration and development.
It would be expected that this education program would cover the important new Mining Act regulations on Aboriginal consultation and the licensing of exploration activities that are scheduled to come in to force in 2012 (see Jan. 12th post regarding the Wahgoshig First Nation decision). These regulations are necessary to establish the foundation for mining development and to hopefully avoid conflicts between Aboriginal communities and mining companies as occurred between the Wahgoshig First Nation and Solid Gold Resource Corp. The regulations must help clarify the relationship between the Mining Act and Far North Act that prohibits mining activities in Ontario’s far north until community plans are developed.
However, the content of the workshops appears to be more of an introduction to the mining industry in Ontario with topics such as “Minerals in Your Life.” This seems to be a missed opportunity to solicit Aboriginal views on the adequacy of the new prospecting and exploration regulations. Given the timelines, another more substantive consultation is not likely to occur until the regulations are in force.