[Canada/Ontario] Mining needs better policy – Editorial (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – July 22, 2015)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

Provincial and federal governments need to provide more support to the country’s mining sector. The industry is a wealth generator, employing hundreds of people in Northwestern Ontario and across the country, and providing millions of dollars in wages to workers and taxes to government.

Communities like Red Lake and Pickle Lake were created by gold mining booms that continue today. Thunder Bay and other communities in the region supply workers, equipment and expertise to the sector. Very few communities are not receiving some economic spin-offs from mining, a industry that still faces a number of challenges to growth.

As Canada’s energy and mines ministers meet for their 72nd annual conference this week, the country’s exploration and mining industry is asking governments to turn their attention to several areas that are challenging the sector during this period of economic downturn and uncertainty.

A report prepared by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) has detailed three policy priorities that will help the industry overcome current challenges and capitalize on the opportunities before it.

The first of the three priorities is for governments to ensure sufficient capacity across federal departments to conduct timely environmental assessments and improve federal-provincial co-ordination, and 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.

Secondly, the industry wants government to address the higher costs of operating in remote and Northern Canada and to work together to invest in nation-building northern infrastructure, and use fiscal tools to facilitate private-sector infrastructure investments to catalyze remote exploration and new mining investment. A recent industry study has revealed that 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 third priority addresses the need to help junior mining companies secure access to capital by adopting and enhancing fiscal incentives that sustain grassroots mineral exploration.
These policy changes would, if enacted, help open up new areas for mining such as the mineral-rich Ring of Fire mining camp, particularly by conducting more timely environmental assessments, providing more consistent rules relating to First Nations consultation, and by providing more funding for critical infrastructure such as roads and power lines to remote mining areas.

Now is the time for taking action on these challenges facing the industry instead of continuing to make hollow promises, discussing the issues to death, and conducting more studies.

PDAC president Rod Thomas says that “to compete globally, Canada must work to remain attractive as a destination for investment in mineral exploration and development.

“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.”

Governments must continue to support this industry which takes rocks from the ground and turns them into jobs for Northerners, and taxes to pay for strong social welfare and health services.

Acting on these three policies requested by industry would go a long way to improve the future of the industry.

And that can only mean good things for the country and the region.

For the original source of this editorial, click here: http://www.chroniclejournal.com/opinion/editorials/mining-needs-better-policy/article_6f2ae448-307c-11e5-8ac4-ef583bbacd0f.html