Heather Exner-Pirot is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
Canada’s long-awaited critical minerals strategy, released last week by Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, puts a plan behind the $3.8-billion the government previously announced to support critical minerals development and generally accelerate mining projects.
But while it’s encouraging to see Ottawa backing the natural resource sector in a big way, the question now is if the mining sector is interested in pursuing projects in Canada.
Calling a mineral “critical” is a purely political distinction, describing those resources that the government believes are strategic, limited or concentrated, and thus deserving of state oversight. That term has no geological significance.
Canadian investment on mining exploration is still abysmally low at $2.5-billion last year, down 41 per cent from its 2011 peak. It’s been held back by the usual suspects: long waits for permits, lack of community support and the decades-long timelines for getting financial returns. Unless Canada’s critical minerals strategy goes much further, the mining companies might not want to come out to play.
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