Canada: A Global Mining Powerhouse – by Minister Joe Oliver (Toronto, Canada – November 14, 2012)

Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Joe Oliver gave this speech at the Toronto Stock Exchange on November 14, 2012.

Check Against Delivery

Thank you very much, Ian. And, ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be with you and my thanks to the Mining Association of Canada, the Prospectors and Developers Association and their members for hosting this event. I’m pleased to talk to you about the pivotal role that mining and exploration plays in creating jobs and economic growth in Canada.

Merci beaucoup. C’est un plaisir d’être avec parmi vous. Je remercie l’Association minière du Canada, l’Association des prospecteurs et entrepreneurs du Canada et leurs membres pour cet accueil. Je suis ravi de vous parler du rôle primordial que joue l’exportation minière dans la création d’emplois et la croissance économique du Canada.

We all know that Canada is a global mining powerhouse. We’re shattering production records for the second year in a row with world class mineral production in Canada reaching a record of over $50 billion. Mining contributed more than $62 billion to Canada’s nominal GDP last year — more than a fifth of our merchandise exports.

The thriving Canadian natural resource sector directly and indirectly accounts for close to 20 percent of all economic activity in Canada and growth in mining and exploration has meant well-paying jobs for more than 320,000 people, including more Aboriginal Canadians than any other sector of the economy.

The mining sector contributes in a substantial way to Canadian social priorities by adding eight and a half billion dollars to government revenues ever year — money that supports the delivery of everything from health care and education to roads and bridges and clean water, benefiting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

We as a government are committed to creating new markets that help the Canadian mining industry compete in some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. We’re keeping taxes low, eliminating red tape, paying down debt, reducing the regulatory burden and promoting free trade and innovation. And our conservative approach to fiscal management has not gone unnoticed.

Canada’s credit rating is a solid Triple-A and for the fifth straight year the World Economic Forum ranked Canadian banks the soundest in the world. We’re the only G-7 country to have recouped all the jobs lost during the last recession and added 820,000 net new jobs since July 2009. Real GDP is now significantly higher than pre-recession levels — again, the best performance in the G-7. And both the OECD and the IMF identified Canada among the leaders in economic growth in the industrialized world over the next two years. Forbes Magazine has named Canada the best country in the world in which to do business. And just last week the OECD said that Canada’s GDP will be the fastest-growing among G-7 countries for the next 50 years. The reason relates to our conservative fiscal policies, our lower debt, our solid banking system and of course our natural resources.

So that’s the first thing I want to convey, that Canada’s economic fundamentals are sound and our fiscal house is in order.

The security of Canada’s economy makes us attractive partners as other countries look to diversify their economies and that is good for the mining industry. Equally important for Canada and the mining sector is the overarching reality that the global economic balance is shifting. Developing economies with the world’s highest growth rates are hungry for our minerals and metals and other resources to fuel their growth.

There are tremendous opportunities for Canada to capitalize on growth in rapidly-emerging markets, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. However, global competition is intense so we need to work aggressively in these markets and that’s what we’re doing.

Over the past year, I’ve been to China, Japan, Korea, India, the Phillippines, Israel, Europe and the United States to promote Canada’s abundant natural resources. At every stop, I met with industry and government representatives and emphasized our immense resource wealth, our advanced technology, our liquid capital markets, our world class technological expertise, our nondiscriminatory regulatory system, our unprecedented plans for development and an approach to environmental protection which is second to none.

Our government believes that we do not need to choose between economic development and environmental protection. We can and we must do both. Canadians deserve and expect nothing less.

Our plan for responsible resource development will ensure Canada’s regulatory regime for major projects is among the most efficient, effective and competitive in the world. This new legislation introduces a sweeping new approach to regulation that eliminates duplication and enforces beginning-to-end limits on environmental assessments. It also strengthens environmental protection by focussing on major projects and strengthening enforcement.

We also recognize the key resource development – the key role that resource development plays in the economic and social well-being of hundreds of remote Aboriginal communities across Canada. And that is why the legislation enhances consultation with Aboriginal peoples to ensure their economic and social interests are taken into account.

The mining sector is the largest private employer of Aboriginal people — seven and a half percent of its workforce. And our government is fully committed to ensuring that Aboriginal Canadians share in the jobs, economic growth and prosperity generated by our country’s natural resource wealth.

Our government appreciates the importance of the mining sector and we’re proud of our track record in supporting the industry. We acknowledge the cyclical nature of the industry, subject to the volatility of global economic conditions and we’ve worked to assist companies who want to invest or expand into the Canadian market. We’ve reduced the federal corporate tax rate to 15 percent and have by far the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment among the G-7.

In Budget 2011, we announced the extension of the temporary 50 percent accelerated capital cost allowance for investments in machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sector for two additional years before 2014. And in Budget 2012, we expanded the eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment which is good for business, good for the environment and good for Canada.

Making the most of what’s possible also means ensuring we understand where new opportunities for development exist and that means, among other things, geosciences. Since 2008, our government has delivered $100 million for the new Geomapping for Energy and Minerals Program for public geosciences, the GEM program. We’ve also renewed funding for the targeted Geosciences Program with a focus on developing new ways of exploring for deeper mineral deposits. To stay at the forefront, we need to develop innovative technologies and approaches which will continue to support our ability to be competitive and productive. Our work together makes sure Canada is open for business.

De Beers has invested nearly $2 billion to develop diamond mines in the North and in Ontario, providing close to 1,000 jobs. A third De Beers mine is expected to be in operation in the Northwest Territories within the next few years, representing an investment of up to 650 million and creating 350 new jobs.

Australia’s BHP Billiton has invested over $1 billion in its Jansen Lake potash project in Saskatchewan that, upon completion, will create another thousand jobs for Canadians.

Cliffs Natural Resources of the U.S. has partnered with Wugang of China to invest more than 1.4 billion in the Bloom Lake iron mine in Quebec. That mine opened in 2010 and employs more than 200 people.

As our mining sector continues to grow and expand with new projects coming on stream, the need for skilled workers continues to grow. Our policy is that Canadians must always come first. But shortages are expected to increase as Canada’s energy, mining and forest sectors are estimated to need more than 300,000 cumulative hires in the next 10 years.

At the federal level, we have the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Federal Skills Worker Program, the Skills and Partnership Fund and Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training, to mention just a few.

Cooperation with our partners and respect for provincial and territorial jurisdiction will always be a key element in all areas of resource development. Based on discussions with my provincial and territorial counterparts at the Mines Ministers Conference in Charlottetown, I’m confident that we will continue to make progress across the board from geosciences to regulatory modernization.

Our continued success will depend on a world-leading investment environment, greater access to some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, continued innovation, efficient labour markets, stronger environmental protection and improved consultation with Aboriginal peoples.

And I’m counting on the people here in this room to make the most of these opportunities and to continue to spur investment to ensure that Canada remains a global mining giant well into the future.

Thank you very much.