Canadian Manufacturing

Alberta is the world’s newest mining hot spot



TORONTO: Move over Quebec, Alberta is now seen as the number one jurisdiction for mineral exploration and development, according to the results of the Survey of Mining Companies: 2010 mid-year update by the Fraser Institute.

Quebec—the province that has held first place in the annual global survey three years in a row—has dropped to third.

Quebec’s downgrading is likely related to increases in provincial mining taxes and concerns about Bill 79, the review of Quebec’s mining law.

Australia was one of the hardest hit among the jurisdictions, which saw a dramatic decrease in its survey rankings. The survey results suggest dissatisfaction with the Australian government’s proposed heavy Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). And although the tax was cancelled after the survey was conducted, miners will still see significant tax increases.

“The results of this updated survey make one point abundantly clear: governments that change mining policies in mid-stream without consulting the industry risk driving away investment,” said Fred McMahon, survey coordinator and the Institute’s vice-president of international policy research.

Overall, the top 10 jurisdictions are Alberta, Finland, Quebec, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Chile, Newfoundland and Labrador, Botswana, Alaska, and Nevada.

Canadian jurisdictions generally fared well in the survey. The Yukon rose from 13th to fourth, and both Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador moved up one spot, placing fifth and seventh. Ontario also moved up one spot to 20th, while Nunavut climbed to 22nd.

British Columbia, which industry executives have blasted for its multiple layers of regulation, little coordination between government agencies, and uncertainty around aboriginal land claims, improved its ranking to 26th, although it remains ahead of only the Northwest Territories, which moved up to 32nd overall.

“Though Canada’s overall performance in the survey remains strong, Quebec has done an about-face in recent months, damaging its reputation for stable mining policy. The government would be well advised to refrain from thickening regulations and increasing royalties,” said McMahon.

The Fraser Institute’s Survey of Mining Companies: 2010 Mid-Year Update is based on the opinions of mining executives representing 429 mineral exploration and development companies on the investment climate of 51 jurisdictions around the world. The update was conducted following the global recovery in commodity prices and the introduction of new regulatory hurdles and taxation in many jurisdictions.

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