HALIFAX—As Canada’s Energy and Mines Ministers meet for their 72nd annual conference in Nova Scotia, Canada’s exploration and mining industry is asking governments to turn their attention to several areas that are challenging the sector.
“To compete globally, Canada must work to remain attractive as a destination for investment in mineral exploration and development,” Rod Thomas, president of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada, said.
“Canada must also maintain the components of the ecosystem that make the Canadian minerals industry unique, namely its world-class exploration and supply sectors, financing expertise and reputation as a consistent and stable jurisdiction in which to explore, build and operate mines,” he added.
In a brief submitted by the Canadian Mineral Industry Federation, and prepared by PDAC as well as the Mining Association of Canada, the organizations detailed three policy priorities designed to help the industry overcome current challenges and capitalize on opportunities within Canada.
First, industry wants the government to ensure federal departments have sufficient capacity to conduct timely environmental assessments and improve federal-provincial coordination. Meanwhile, it wants government to clarify and improve the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal communities, particularly issues related to ambiguity, unpredictability, discrepancies between Crown consultation policies / guidelines and consultation in practice, and provincial/territorial-federal coordination.
Next the mining sector wants government to recognize the higher costs of operating in remote areas and in northern Canada. A recent industry study revealed the cost to build new mines is as much as 2.5 times higher in northern Canada compared to more centrally-located regions, while remote mineral exploration can cost as much as six times that of non-remote projects, the organizations noted. The cost premium is largely attributed to the lack of critical infrastructure in these regions, such as ports, power and roads. Industry wants governments to work together to invest in northern infrastructure as well as use fiscal tools to facilitate private-sector infrastructure investments.
“Despite the current downturn, the industry continues to make enormous contributions to the social and economic well-being of Canadians. However, these contributions cannot be taken for granted. Working in partnership with industry, governments can take concrete steps now to position the sector for future success so that, together, we can seize growth opportunities at the earliest signs of the next upturn,” said Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC.
Finally, the organizations want government to help junior companies secure access to capital, which it says in turn, will help sustain grassroots mineral exploration in order to maintain the pipeline of projects that could become mines.