Association de l'exploration minière du Québec

Association de l'exploration minière du Québec

August 11, 2011 15:34 ET

The Quebec Mineral Exploration Association (AEMQ) Decries Mineral Title Management in Quebec

In the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region alone, over $400 million in exploration work is in jeopardy

ROUYN-NORANDA, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Aug. 11, 2011) - The Québec Mineral Exploration Association (AEMQ) urges the Québec government to immediately cease applying one of Bill 14's provisions retroactively.

Since the introduction on May 12, 2011 of Bill 14 (An Act respecting the development of mineral resources in keeping with the principles of sustainable development), all interests in land (claims, titles, leases, etc.) in jurisdictions considered by local master plans and regional development plans to be within urbanization perimeters and areas dedicated to vacationing have simply been withdrawn from mineral exploration.

Even if SMEs have invested millions in research and mineral resource exploration, their rights have been rendered invalid without warning, discussion or an opportunity to challenge the decision, which is unacceptable in our democratic society. In addition, the legislator has introduced an unacceptable incoherence through this procedure, given that the concept of the perimeters and areas is in no way defined in our legislation.

As a result, SMEs involved in exploration that wish to perform research and investigations must now obtain a permit from a third party—the local municipality—in order to continue its activities. Without this authorization, companies' rights are simply declared void without compensation, which creates significant financial loss for them.

"In the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region alone, our preliminary estimate shows that, to date, over $400 million that has been invested in work has been affected by this measure. Our assessment is not yet complete, and we have not even begun to look at the total investment our SMEs have made in all the titles affected. This is just the tip of the iceberg," said Valérie Fillion, Executive Director of the Québec Mineral Exploration Association.

In recent weeks, SMEs and individuals who hold titles or claims in the areas in question were given notice by the Québec Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF). They were even threatened that their titles would be revoked if they did not respect these provisions—a threat that was later withdrawn.

"Many mining jurisdictions have been designated as areas dedicated to vacationing. The maps in the MRNF's systems are not always consistent with the plans that were prepared by regional county municipalities and accepted by Québec's Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l'Occupation du territoire (MAMROT). The registration or re-registration of thousand of titles has been blocked, and no one is available to answer the questions of the prospectors and SMEs involved in mining. Imagine this kind of disorder in the management of our farmlands, in the middle of the planting and harvesting seasons," Ms. Fillion explained.

Unfortunately, the steps required to file a request, the timeframe that local municipalities must respect and their criteria for justifying their decisions, the procedure to enforce their decisions, and the procedure to appeal a decision when title holders feel their rights have been violated are indicated in neither the bill nor the document signed and submitted by the MRNF's director of mining rights.

The AEMQ believes that this act is a veiled expropriation and suspension of rights that the government has forced on hundreds of mining SMEs in Québec. "We are entering a stage where companies and individuals, who feel their rights have been deprived and who have not been given a chance to negotiate, feel that, in order to have their rights respected, their only recourse is legal action. Clearly, that is not the road we want to take. We prefer open and honest discussion, but so far, the government has not been very willing to listen," Ms. Fillion stated.

About the Québec Mineral Exploration Association (AEMQ)

The Québec Mineral Exploration Association (AEMQ) is a non-profit professional and industry association incorporated under Part III of the Companies Act. The AEMQ represents the key stakeholders involved in the field of mineral exploration in Québec. The AEMQ was founded in 1975 to reflect the will of mineral explorationists in Québec (prospectors, geologists, geophysicists, contractors, developers, exploration managers) to stimulate exploration and foster the development of mining entrepreneurship in Québec. The AEMQ brings together more than 1,500 individual members (prospectors, geologists, geophysicists, brokers, tax experts, lawyers, etc.) and over 200 corporate members (junior and major mining exploration companies, engineering firms specializing in geology and geophysics, drilling companies, services companies, equipment manufacturers, etc.). It is headed by a board of twenty directors, each representing a different segment of the mineral exploration industry.

The Association's President is Ghislain Poirier (Stornoway Diamond Corporation), who is supported by François Bouchard (Osisko Mining Corporation), Tony Brisson (Cogitore Resources Inc.), Martin Demers (Aurizon Mines Ltd.), Mélissa Desrochers (TMR Communications), Pierre-Philippe Dupont (Royal Nickel Corporation), Marco Gagnon (Adventure Gold), Robert Gagnon (ExploLab), Jean Girard (Alexis Minerals Corporation), Guy Gosselin (Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd.), Gérard Houle (Les Pierres du Nord), Marcel H. Jolicoeur (GENIVAR), Robert Kitchen (Cree Nation of Nemaska), Marc L'Heureux (Vior), Jean-Marc Lulin (Azimut Exploration Inc.), Frank Mariage (Miller Thomson Pouliot SENCRL/LLP), Jean-François Ouellette (Services Techniques Géonordic), Gino Roger (Midland Exploration), Mathieu Savard (Virginia Mines) and André Vachon (Roche).

The AEMQ's head office is located at 132 Lac Avenue, Suite 203, Rouyn-Noranda, Québec, J9X 4N5

For more information, visit the AEMQ website at http://www.aemq.org/english/index.asp

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