Scotiabank’s Patricia Mohr says base metal prices likely to rebound within five years
Nunavut’s struggling mining industry can look forward to slow but steady recovery in market value late this year and into the next decade.
So says Scotiabank vice president and commodity economist, Patricia Mohr, the keynote speaker April 5 at Nunavut’s Mining Symposium now underway in Iqaluit.
“I’m a born optimist on this subject but I think we’re virtually at the bottom now,” Mohr said to an audience at Iqaluit’s Astro Theatre. “I think for the base metals we’re going to end the decade with stronger prices.”
Mohr’s comments come after a particularly nasty year for global commodity prices, which have plummeted steadily since 2011 and are close to erasing all growth made since 2001.
The price of iron ore, a vital component to Nunavut’s mining industry, has lost almost two-thirds of its value in recent years: a paltry $55 US per tonne in March 2016, which is down from a peak of $155 US in 2013.
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp., operator of Nunavut’s Mary River project in North Baffin, has struggled to hit its projected targets for the mine, citing poor demand and historically low prices for iron ore on the global market.
In September 2015, the company announced it had temporarily cut wages for employees by 10 per cent to deal with the lost revenue.
“Last year we had quite a swoon in overall commodity prices,” Mohr said on the troubles of the industry, whose fortunes would be bleak, she had predicted at the 2015 Nunavut Mining Symposium.
The price of iron ore has been driven down in part, Mohr said, because of global battles for cheap exports to China, the worlds largest consumer of iron ore.
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