ToRONTO (miningweekly.com) – Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) executive adviser Rob Merwin recently stressed the importance of attracting back investment, especially in exploration, to the province, which currently had other jurisdictions champing at its heels for the title of Canada’s best mining destination.
The Ministry was currently seeking the opinion of industry, interest groups, the First Nations and the wider public to inform its new mineral development strategy for the next decade. The findings from MNDM’s strategy engagement would be collated and formally presented to the province this autumn. This would inform the drafting process for a formal release of the strategy on a yet-to-be-announced date.
“The intent is to listen and shepherd information about the state of the [mining and minerals] industry and some of the challenges and opportunities it faces. We will then take those ideas and thoughts and translate them into action and bring them forward to the government,” Merwin told an audience at an engagement meeting in Toronto on May 6.
The effort came at a time when the mining and exploration sector suffered the effects of the downcycle, with reduced capital investment and investment in exploration. “While the geology can’t move, we also know that people, technology and capital investment can go anywhere in the world. We need to attract that investment back,” he emphasised.
UPS AND DOWNS
Ontario had been Canada’s leading province for mining and minerals. In 2014, the value of mineral output stood at $11-billion, up from $10.2-billion in 2013. Much of the rise was owing to gold prices remaining fairly buoyant, Merwin noted.
The provincial capital, Toronto, was also the world’s premier location for raising capital for mining and exploration. Combined, the TSX and TSX-V had witnessed an average of $3.7-billion a year in capital raised for projects and operations. However, that figure sunk to $1.7-billion in 2014 and reflected the doldrums in which the wider sector found itself, Merwin added.
Other numbers also trended downwards last year and had caused concern. For example, capital investment declined to $1.3-billion for 2014, down from about $1.6-billion the previous year, while exploration investment had been poll-axed; it stood at $500-million for 2014, down from around $1-billion two years’ beforehand.
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