Tallying Quebec’s self-inflicted mining wounds – by David Parkinson (Globe and Mail – March 4, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

A few years ago, Quebec was the belle of the ball for prospective mining investors. Now, it seems, its Parti Quebecois government’s policy positions are well on their way to making the province a wallflower.

A new global survey of mining companies, from Canadian economic think tank the Fraser Institute, shows that Canada in general remains highly desirable for mining investment. Seven Canadian jurisdictions rank in the top-16, out of 112 global jurisdictions, in terms of overall mining investment attractiveness, a measure that combines the quality of the mineral potential and the receptiveness of government policy.

(Newfoundland and Labrador, ranked 3rd in the world, is Canada’s highest-ranked jurisdiction.) Also, five provinces rank in the top-20 in a list of jurisdictions with the most investment-friendly government policies (led by Alberta, at Number 3).

In both rankings, Quebec isn’t among them – underlining the province’s rapid fall from grace as a mining-investment destination.

As recently as the Fraser Institute’s 2009-2010 survey, Quebec ranked Number One in the world in terms of both policy perception and overall investment attractiveness.

In 2011-2012, mining companies still rated the province the second-most attractive mining jurisdiction in the world (behind Yukon Territory at the time), and fifth in the policy score. Now? The latest survey has Quebec in 18th place in overall investment attractiveness – and it has fallen to 21st in the public-policy rankings.

Let’s look at the roadblocks the Parti Quebecois has thrown in front of mining investors in just the past year. It passed a new Mining Act that toughened environmental rules and added new commitments to local economic spin-offs, while simultaneously setting up potential legal battles with aboriginal communities over their right to participate in the approval process for projects involving native lands.

It increased taxes on mineral production, while offering to give producers tax breaks if they process the minerals within the province. It proposed new powers for Quebec-registered companies to ward off hostile takeovers from outsiders.

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