PDAC 2010: Miners Face More Controls

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"Bill C-300. . .would impose restrictions on Canadian companies operating in foreign lands."

Governments around the world are looking at their mining laws with the likely result that miners will face even more regulatory burdens in the future, despite already being one of the world's most regulated industries.

One need look no further than the Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas Corporations in Developing Countries act in Canada.

Bill C-300, as it's known, is a private member's bill wending its way through Parliament that would impose restrictions on Canadian companies operating in foreign lands. Normally, private member's bills get scant attention, since few live long enough to see the light of day. However, with a minority government in place, the bill is getting an inordinate amount of attention.

"It would be a real hassle," Richard Lachcik, head of the mining group at Macleod Dixon in Toronto, says of the proposed law, which would require the federal government to issue guidelines that establish corporate-accountability standards on Canadian mining and oil-and-gas companies operating in other countries. Canadians or foreigners could complain about the conduct of Canadian companies engaged in mining and the complaint would be investigated. Companies found to have violated the guidelines would face the loss of financial support provided by government entities such as Export Development Canada, International Trade or the Canada Pension Plan.

Internationally, the mining industry is also facing greater government scrutiny and threats of more regulation. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia and Brazil are all examining their mining regimes and in some cases royalty rates. John Turner, head of global mining at Fasken Martineau in Toronto, says it's a case of "government wanting a bigger piece of the pie."

Not only that, but governments are getting more active in ownership. "State-owned enterprises are acquiring companies entirely or taking strategic positions," Turner says, "governments are moving much more quickly than they traditionally have."

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