On possible environmental damage: 'Get a deposit'

Red tape caused drop in exploration, prospector says


Yet another voice is singing a familiar tune.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, the director of regulatory affairs for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, says Nunavut needs to streamline its regulatory process if it wants to grow its mining sector.

"Industry wants one window, not 20," Mihychuk told delegates at the Nunavut Association of Municipalities conference in Iqaluit last week.

The former Manitoba cabinet minister contrasted Nunavut's regulatory environment with British Columbia, which doubled its share of Canadian exploration spending since it adopted a "one-window" regulatory system in 2005.

Meanwhile, Nunavut's share of that exploration spending dropped from 16 per cent in 2004 to 11 per cent in 2006, Mihychuk said.

Nunavut's complex regulatory system is rooted in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement and while everyone from mining companies to Premier Paul Okalik have recently called for the system to be streamlined, little has happened.

Mihychuk also urged NAM to lobby the federal government to spend more on detailed geological mapping on Nunavut's vast land mass.

"You have huge tracts of land that are lacking basic information," she said.

Characterizing prospectors as nerdy geologists who "talk to rocks" and are "a little handicapped," Mihychuk urged mayors to welcome prospectors to their communities and to even form joint partnerships and do their own prospecting.

But many in the room remained wary. Jayko Simonie, Hall Beach's assistant senior administrative officer, said miners have left a legacy of broken promises when it comes to cleaning up the mess left behind by mines.

"They say they'll put the land back the way it was," he said. "It's never put back the way it was."

Mihychuk said companies sometimes make exorbitant promises to get access to the land, while communities often don't demand enough from their mining suitors. She urged communities to get a deposit against environmental damage.

She also reminded mayors that royalties are paid only on mining profits and that taxes are where the money is.

"Don't stake your claims on royalties," she said.

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