Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. mining industry gets pandemic help in form of payment deferrals and waived expenditures

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced measures to assist the mining, mineral exploration and quarry industries in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Director of Mining Industry NL says new measures will help companies regroup amid pandemic

Newfoundland and Labrador's mining industry received a boost on Monday to help it bounce back from lost business during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government on Monday announced measures to assist mining, mineral exploration and quarry industries in the province, aimed at helping business find its footing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government's announcement included deferring rental and fee payments and waiving mineral expenditure requirements for 2020.

"Both the province, I believe, and the mining industry will benefit from this as it affords more time really to respond to the COVID-19 situation, [and to] reposition our companies to rebound," said Ed Moriarty, executive director of Mining Industry NL, the provincial industry association.

"We're very pleased to see these assistance measures put in place by the provincial government. It will certainly support our industry in these pretty unprecedented times."

Effective immediately, rental and fee payments associated with land tenure issued under the Mineral Act and Quarry Materials Act are deferred until Dec. 31, according to a government news release. 

The date range to be qualified for deferral is March 18 to Dec. 31.

Items being deferred include mining and surface lease rentals, mineral licence renewal fees, application and reapplication fees and rentals for quarry permits, quarry lease rental, and hectarage fees for quarry materials exploration licence applications.

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady made the announcement on Monday during a press conference. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

The provincial government is also waiving water use charge payments for 2019 related to mineral exploration, and mineral assessment expenditure requirements for mineral licences for one year — from March 18 of this year to March 17, 2021.

"That will enable our companies to regroup and focus on making the adjustments they need to do in response to these changing market conditions," Moriarty said.

"In conversations with our members, our association saw the negative impacts arising from this public health crisis as they unfold for the industry, and we asked our government to establish measures that's for our sector and to do so in alignment with similar initiatives that are being put in place across the country."  

Mining, mineral exploration and quarrying account for almost $4.3 billion in mineral shipments, $48.6 million in exploration expenditures, and a quarry industry valued at nearly $30 million, said Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady during a Monday news conference.

"Employment exceeds nearly 7,000 people. These industries create opportunities for local businesses, and increase the province's ability to invest in programs, infrastructure, education and health care," Coady said.

"As outlined in Mining the Future 2030 we are committed to supporting the mining and mineral exploration industries in Newfoundland and Labrador, to help them make a full recovery from the global downturn due to the pandemic."

Further assistance 

The provincial government also launched a new Mineral Lands Administration Portal on Monday to replace the existing system, which has been in place since 2005. 

"This new system will help ensure a seamless regulatory process for mineral exploration companies and prospectors, and has significantly more tools for clients to use," said Coady.

The provincial government also said it is continuing with its mineral incentive program, providing $1.7 million in financial assistance and training to "support and encourage mineral exploration in Newfoundland and Labrador."

The program includes junior exploration assistance and prospector assistance.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Patrick Butler