Dear Shastri Ramnath:
This is in response to your letter dated April 2, 2020 to Honourable Blaine Pedersen, Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development, and the recommendations by the committee for economic recovery measures for mining and exploration. As the A/Executive Director of the Resource Development Division, I have been asked by the Minister to respond on his behalf.
I would like to assure you that we share your concerns for the potential economic impact on the minerals sector resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to working closely with industry stakeholders, Indigenous rights-holders, representative organizations and the Manitoba Liaison Committee on Mining and Exploration as we continue our work to develop impact mitigation and recovery measures.
It is important that we ensure that the minerals sector continues to successfully operate in Manitoba and that we ensure adaptability in this time of uncertainty by implementing measures that support innovation. As immediate actions, we are committing to the following measures resulting from the proposal initiated by the Manitoba Liaison Committee on Mining and Exploration:
- Permitting – the department is committed to working with Manitoba Conservation and Climate to ensure that permits for projects in the minerals sector remain in good standing where there is no material change to the nature or scale of activities under an existing permit. We are also prepared to continue working with you to identify additional opportunities to streamline the administration of the permitting process. Dale Wride, Northern Mining Liaison, is available to discuss options and opportunities as we move forward.
- Consultation – the department is committed to working to identify alternative delivery models for the Crown-Indigenous Consultation process. This will include efforts to pro-actively engage partner First Nations in a dialogue on ways to continue the delivery of the engagement services required for meaningful consultations in accordance with the Manitoba’s Duty to Consult Framework. Darryl Villeneuve, Indigenous and Northern Relations Consultant, is available to provide updates on the department’s efforts as they move forward.
- Access to sites – the department is committed to working with public health officials to develop a Public Health Guidance for Workplaces document that will provide recommendations and resources for industry sectors. We will advocate for the inclusion of resources targeted to industrial camps as well as northern and remote workplaces. Darryl Villeneuve will also be available to provide updates on these efforts as we progress.
- Assessment work credits – the department is committed to extending Double-Assessment Credits for exploration work completed in 2020. We will also provide industry with notification that a portion of the expenditures related to pre-engagement and consultation with First Nations and other Indigenous communities will be eligible for assessment work credits and develop a document outlining the guidelines for reporting. We will also consider the eligibility of smart mining and progressive rehabilitation for exploration sites on a case-by-case basis. Shaun Gallagher, Assessment Geologist, is available to further discuss the application of assessment work credits.
We understand that this is a very challenging time for the industry, therefore, we are also offering a one year Extension of Time on all Mining Claims and Mineral Exploration Licences expiring prior to April 30, 2021, with the exception of dispositions in treaty land entitilement areas, where further assessment will be required. Sirena Ketchen, A/Mining Recorder, will be in contact to discuss mechanisms for initiating an industry led extension.
In addition to the above mentioned measures, the department is interested in further exploring ways to position the Manitoba minerals sector for a potential role in addressing the public health crises of present and future. We would like to defer this back to the Manitoba Liaison Committee on Mining and Exploration for further discussion on ideas and opportunities. Christian Böhm, Chief Geologist, will be in contact to discuss ways to move this item forward.
I would like to again extend our appreciation for the pro-active efforts of the Manitoba Liaison Committee on Mining and Exploration to identify impact mitigation and economic recovery measures related to COVID-19 pandemic.