Minister of Natural Resources – The Honourable Joe Oliver 2013 PDAC Speech (March 4, 2013)

Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention 2013

March 4, 2013
Toronto, Ontario

Joe Oliver is the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources



Thank you very much Mr. Nolan. [Glenn Nolan, President of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada] I want to congratulate the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada for putting together yet another outstanding conference and trade show.

It’s a pleasure to be here to welcome all of you, especially those coming from other countries from around the world, to the largest event of its kind in the world.

Strength and Stability

From the change in your pocket to the airplane that brought you here today, the evidence of the necessity for minerals and metals is all around. Mining, in fact, has been driving Canada’s economic development for years. In 2011, the sector contributed $63 billion in nominal GDP or 3.9 percent to the total Canadian economy — that’s almost $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

According to the Mining Association of Canada, in 2011 alone, mining and processing companies paid some $7.1 billion in corporate taxes and royalties. That means mining is a key source of revenue for government — revenue that helps to support the programs and services that Canadians use every day — from roads and bridges to education and health care.

With more than 200 active mines in Canada producing more than 60 different metals and minerals, the sector is a key economic driver in dozens of rural, remote and Aboriginal communities across the country.

Though we are seeing softening of markets, the outlook shows healthy, long-term prospects for the industry.

Canada’s mining industry broke records in 2011 for exploration spending, production and exports. Canada remained the world’s top destination for mineral exploration in 2012, attracting 16 percent of budgeted spending.

In fact, close to 60 percent of the world’s publicly listed mining companies list here, on the Toronto Stock Exchange or the Toronto Venture Exchange. Since 2007, more than a third of all global mining equity finance was raised on these two exchanges.

Canada’s credit rating is a solid “Triple-A”, and for the fifth straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canadian banks the soundest in the world.

We are the only G7 country to have recouped all of the jobs lost during the last recession and added 924,000 net new jobs since July 2009.

Both the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Monetary Fund have named Canada among the leaders in economic growth in the industrialized world over the next two years.

And few countries are generating natural resource projects on the scale or pace of Canada. Over the next 10 years, as many as 600 major resource projects, worth more than $650 billion, will be underway or planned — creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Canadians.

Discoveries in Ontario’s Ring of Fire, in Quebec’s North and of course in Northern Canada mean that mining will continue to play a pivotal role in Canada, providing economic growth for years to come.

In fact, the Conference Board of Canada recently released a study stating that metal and mineral output in Canada’s North could nearly double from $4.4 billion last year to $8.5 billion in 2020. In the process, up to 17,000 new mining jobs would be created, along with 50,000 more jobs in related industries.

Realizing the potential of mining is essential to our Government’s goal of jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians.

Our goal is to ensure that Canada remains the best place in the world in which to do business. We’ve listened to industry stakeholders, and through measures such as the foreign affiliate dumping rules introduced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, we are working to ensure that Canada’s system of international taxation achieves an appropriate balance between protecting the tax base and maintaining Canada’s position as a leading jurisdiction for exploration and mining companies.

Our Government understands that mining isn’t an easy business. During a time of financial uncertainty, investors are cautious and companies are left wondering if they will have access to the financing required to get necessary projects underway. With fluctuating commodity prices, companies cannot risk a lengthy regulatory process.

Responsible Resource Development

Our Government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development is making project reviews more predictable and timely, reducing duplication, improving environmental protection and enhancing Aboriginal consultation.

This innovative plan is fundamentally changing Canada’s regulatory regime for major natural resource projects to ensure it is among the most efficient, effective and competitive in the world — a system that provides defined timelines for approvals and allows provincial environmental assessments that meet the requirements to replace federal assessments as a means to eliminate duplication.

And while our Government is working to improve certainty, the mining industry is also pursuing innovation to make it more competitive.

Power of Innovation

We are operating in a global marketplace, where the success of firms ― both large and small ― depends as never before, on their ability to compete, to sell and to invest on competitive terms. Innovation is key to improving our economic performance as well as environmental outcomes. Now is the time to demonstrate that economic prosperity and environmental responsibility are not a question of either/or. That’s why, for example, we are working closely with industry on the Green Mining Initiative to reduce the mining sector’s environmental footprint and to position Canada as a global leader in responsible mining development.

Maximizing our competitive advantage also means ensuring that we understand where new opportunities for development exist.

Geomatics are providing us with powerful new tools to spur economic development in Canada’s North. Since 2008, our Geo-Mapping for Energy and Minerals program has been providing us with the public geoscience needed to make informed land-use and resource-management decisions. It has completed 20 projects, finished 34 regional geophysical surveys and published 644 open file releases of new geoscience data.

The program’s latest releases, which I’m pleased to announce today, include new geophysical data to guide exploration for base and precious metals ― like gold and chromite ― in the Pelly Lake region of Nunavut, as well as new geological maps that provide context for gold and copper occurrences in the Dawson Range-White Gold district of the Yukon.

We are also using our Targeted Geoscience Initiative to provide the best geoscience data to point us to deeper mineral deposits ― critical to ensuring the mining industry’s long-term prosperity.

Techniques and knowledge developed by the Initiative have been widely adopted by industry in regions like Ontario’s chromite-rich Ring of Fire.

Community Engagement

Many of our First Nation and Inuit communities are located in regions with great untapped resource potential.

Our plan for Responsible Resource Development has a component dedicated to strengthening Aboriginal consultation, which underscores our commitment to ensure that First Nations’ communities benefit from the tremendous opportunities of resource development. Our plan includes $13.6 million specifically to strengthen Aboriginal consultations.

We are also investing $690 million to support training and education for Aboriginal Canadians to help meet the growing demand for skilled labour in mining and other industries.

We know that on a proportional basis, mining employs more Aboriginal Canadians than any other sector of our economy.

For example, in Timmins, Ontario, the Wabun Tribal Council represents the interests of six local First Nation communities. This Council has been a strong partner in guiding resource development. Since 2008, Council members have signed over a dozen exploration agreements and, by this time next year, they’ll have a dozen more.

In Saskatchewan, several First Nations are pursuing major partnerships in the province’s potash industry. As you know, Saskatchewan is the world’s largest producer of potash. One of the First Nation partnerships calls for a new mine producing up to 2.8 million tonnes of potash annually with 500 mining jobs.

And in Canada’s North, at the Meadowbank Gold Mine, 39 percent of the mine’s workforce is Inuit.

Today, I am pleased to announce that we have updated the Exploration and Mining Guide for Aboriginal Communities, which will further facilitate greater participation of Aboriginal peoples in the benefits of new resource projects here in Canada.

The guide was developed by my department in partnership with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Mining Association of Canada, the Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association and PDAC. While the guide helps Aboriginal Canadians to better understand the mining cycle here in Canada, it is also used by Canadian companies operating abroad.

Corporate Social Responsibility

The benefits of consultation and participation of local communities for the mining industry extend beyond our borders. Our mining industry is a global one and it carries with it a responsibility and a commitment to engage constructively with local communities.

Developing a new mine in any given country can take years and a massive investment of capital. Exploration and development can mean dealing with harsh frontiers and non-existent infrastructure. In some countries, there can be added risks from untested laws and uncertain governance.

We can address these challenges by working with local communities, other levels of government and the private sector, to find effective solutions.

As companies manage these risks, they are also rightfully expected to operate responsibly — to build social licence by responding to the local cultural, social and environmental perspectives.

Mining has the incredible power to be both a transformative economic force and a driver of positive social change. For companies to succeed, they must embrace corporate social responsibility. And our Government’s strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility is well recognized around the world.

Right now, Canadian mining companies and government are partnering with developing countries and local communities to build much needed infrastructure that is allowing a quality of life never before seen in some developing areas. Companies are collaborating on projects led by the Canadian International Development Agency in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Peru. These projects are helping to improve local governance and providing education and skills training for young people.

With a $15-million investment, Canada is the largest founding donor for the new African Mineral Development Centre, which promotes best practices in sustainable mining policy and management throughout the continent.

And our commitment doesn’t stop there. The Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development, located in British Columbia, is an exciting way that Canada can support developing countries by sharing with them our expertise in policy research and best practices in management.

As Prime Minister Harper said, the institute “will help developing nations harness their resources to generate sustainable economic growth, thereby reducing poverty.”


Let me conclude by saying that this Conference showcases one of Canada’s greatest assets. From exploration companies in remote regions, to equipment suppliers in small towns, all the way to stock exchanges in our biggest city centres – there is a reason why Canada’s mining sector is a model for the world and a magnet for investment.

The mining industry and our government are moving forward together to ensure the best for Canada’s environment, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian economy.

I would like to wish everyone a successful conference.

Thank you.