03/03/2014 08:36 EST | Updated 05/03/2014 05:59 EDT

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver Explains Mine Rejection


Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told mining executives Monday morning that the federal government is upholding its G8 commitment to ensure mining companies disclose payments made to foreign governments.

In his keynote address at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's convention in Toronto, Oliver said the federal government's "preference is to work with the provinces and territories to implement mandatory reporting standards through the securities regulators."

However, he said if the provinces don't implement adequate standards, the federal government will step in to enact legislation by April 1, 2015.

"There must be a pan-Canadian approach to mandatory reporting standards," Oliver said. "We do not want to see some provinces implement standards, while others do not."

The natural resources minister outlined the government's specific requirements.

"We will require Canadian extractive companies to publicly report payments over $100,000 to all levels of government, both domestic and international," he said.

"We want to make it as easy as possible, so we will not create a central database. Instead, we would require that reports be posted to company websites, with the government and public notified."

The government is still consulting with various levels involved — including provinces, Aboriginal groups and industry and non-governmental organizations — to design reporting standards.

New Prosperity mine rejection

Oliver also addressed the government's decision to reject the New Prosperity mine in British Columbia, which he said was due to "significant adverse environmental effects."

"Government has a responsibility to balance economic and environmental considerations when reviewing resource projects," he said in his speech.

Oliver said the mine underwent a rigorous review process by an independent panel, which identified the adverse environmental effects, similar to those identified in an earlier panel report in 2010.

"Based on that finding, the project was not approved," he said.

More than 30,000 attendees from 126 countries are present at the PDAC convention.

Canada is home to more than 75 per cent of the world's mining companies — 57 per cent in Toronto alone.

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