2013 Convention Review – Government’s Commitment to the Mining Industry

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For the second consecutive year The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada attracted more than 30,000 delegates to Toronto for its annual resources and mining convention, considered the biggest and best in the world by those within the industry. In fact, the final official tally was 30,147 attendees, just slightly off the 2012 record. 

The PDAC has been representing the interests of our national mineral exploration and development industry for the past eight decades, forming in 1932.  The association was derived in response to proposed government legislation that was seen as divisive to prospectors.  The organization has grown by leaps and bounds from those early years and its expansion continues to this very day. 

The national organization has about 7,700 individual members including: prospectors, developers, geoscientists, consultants, mining executives, and students, as well as those involved in the drilling, financial, investment, legal and other peripherally-related support fields.  There are almost 1,100 corporate members, including senior, mid-size and junior mining companies and organizations providing services to the mineral industry.

What has been noticeable is the tremendous proliferation in the Toronto convention’s international presence.  This notable cultivation is especially true for the likes of certain countries from Latin America, China and India.  The end result has been a greater number of international-style programs and services being offered in order to better accommodate those delegates in attendance, including many government representatives.  According to a report generated by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual convention contributed almost $72 million to Toronto’s economy in 2011 and it’s believed the figures for last year were much the same.

Minister Oliver’s Address

Each year the three-day convention starts off with a bang, and once again the PDAC procured Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver from the federal government to deliver an opening address along with PDAC President Glenn Nolan. Also among those on hand were Premier Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories and Senator Daniel Lang of the Yukon.

“It’s always a pleasure to be here and especially to welcome those coming from other countries to the largest event of its kind in the world,” Oliver says. “From the change in your pocket to the airplane that brought you here today, the evidence of the necessity for minerals and metals is all around.”

As Oliver went on to say, mining has been a cornerstone in driving Canada’s economic development for many years and in 2011 the sector contributed $63 billion in nominal GDP, or 3.9 per cent of the total economy, which translates into almost $2,000 for every man woman and child in the country.

According to the Mining Association of Canada mining and processing companies paid $7.1 billion in corporate taxes and royalties in 2011 making mining a key source of revenue for the government.

“That revenue helps to support the programs and services that Canadians use everyday, from roads and bridges to education and healthcare,” Oliver states.

There are currently more than 200 active mines in Canada producing more than 60 different metals and minerals and is a key economic driver dozens of rural and remote Aboriginal communities right across the nation.

Oliver also addressed the soft markets, which have especially been of major concern to junior miners, who largely depend on stock market investment in order to carry out their exploration projects.

“The outlook shows healthy long-term prospects for the industry,” Oliver notes. “Canada’s mining industry broke records in 2011 for exploration spending, production and exports. Canada remained the world’s top destination for mineral exploration in 2012, attracting 16 per cent of budgeted spending.”

Almost 60 per cent of the world’s publicly listed mining companies list on The Toronto Stock Exchange or the Toronto Venture Exchange.

“Since 2007 more than one-third of all local global mining equity finance was raised on these two exchanges,” Oliver reveals.

Capitalizing on Momentum

Canada’s credit rating is a solid Triple-A, and for the fifth year in a row the World Economic Forum has ranked Canadian banks the soundest in the world. That aspect is monumental in forwarding industries such as mining on a national and international stage.

“We’re the only G7 country to have recouped all jobs lost during the last recession and added 925,000 new jobs since July 2009,” Oliver remarks.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund have named Canada amongst the leaders in economic growth in the industrialized world over the next two years.

“Few countries are generating natural resource projects on the scale or pace of Canada,” Oliver continues. “Over the next 10 years as many as 600 major projects with more than $650 billion will be under way or planned creating a once in a generation opportunity for Canadians.”

Discoveries in Ontario’s Ring of Fire, the northern area of Quebec and in northern Canada means that mining will continue to play a pivotal role in the country providing economic growth for many years to come. The Conference Board of Canada recently released a study stating the metal and mineral output in Canada’s north is nearly double from $4.4 billion last year to a projected $8.5 billion in 2020. In the process, Oliver expects up to 17,000 new mining jobs will be created along with 50,000 more jobs in related industries.

“Realizing the potential of mining is essential to our government’s goal of jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians,” Oliver says. “We must ensure that Canada remains the best place in the world in which to do business. Our government understands that mining isn’t an easy business. During a time of financial uncertainty investors are cautious and companies are left wondering if they will have the access to financing requirements to get the necessary projects under way.”

Due to widespread fluctuating commodity prices, companies simply cannot risk a lengthy regulatory process. It’s been an exceedingly frustrating time for many of these enterprises, who need help now. There is a need for responsible resource development involving the federal and provincial governments, something Oliver says he’s on board with.

“Our government’s plan for responsible resource development is making project reviews more predictable and timely, reducing duplication, improving environmental protection and enhancing Aboriginal consultation. This innovative plan is fundamentally changing Canada’s regulatory regime for major natural resources projects to ensure it is among the most efficient, effective and competitive in the world.”

Among other things it means having a system with designated timelines for approvals and allows provincial environmental assessments to replace federal assessments as a means to eliminate costly, inefficient duplication.

Geomatics is a powerful new scientific tool that helps spur economic development within the industry. This refers to the process of gathering, processing, storing and delivering geographic information that helps increase efficiencies when mapping out potential new projects based on scientific evidence, not merely speculation. The program’s latest release includes new geophysical data to guide exploration for base and precious metals such as gold.

“Since 2008 our geo-mapping for energy and minerals program has been providing us with a public geoscience needed to make informed land use and resource management decisions,” Oliver says. “It has completed 20 projects, finished three full geophysical surveys and published 644 open-file releases of new geoscience data.”

First Nations – Saskatchewan 

In Saskatchewan several First Nations’ communities are pursuing major partnerships in the provinces lucrative potash industry. Saskatchewan is the largest producer of potash anywhere in the world. One of the First Nations’ partnerships calls for a new mine producing up to 2.8 million tonnes of potash annually with as many as 500 mining jobs.

Today, potash is produced worldwide at amounts exceeding 30 million tonnes yearly, the vast majority of which is for fertilizing purposes. Several types of fertilizer-potash comprise the single largest global industrial use of the element potassium.

Most potash mines today are deep shaft mines more than 1,000 metres underground. Others are mined as strip mines, having been laid down in horizontal layers as sedimentary rock.

Oliver also took time to announce the government has updated the Exploration and Mining Guide for Aboriginal communities with the aim of facilitating greater participation of Aboriginal peoples and the benefits of new resource projects in their own backyard.

“The guide was developed by my department in partnership with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Mining Association of Canada, the Canadian Aboriginal Mining Minerals Association and PDAC,” Oliver remarks. “Our mining industry is global and carries with it a responsibility and a commitment to engage constructively with local communities.”

Developing a new mine in any country can take years and a massive investment in capital but the long-term benefits are well worth the time and effort with an abundance of corporate social responsibility, according to Oliver.

“Mining has the incredible power to be both a transformative economic force and a driver of positive social change.”

PDAC President Glenn Nolan echoed Minister Oliver’s comments on the state of the Canadian mining industry.

“We look forward to building more partnerships to strengthen our relationship with government to ensure that Canada remains a global industry leader. Canada is a leader in the global minerals industry because, simply put, from exploration to production nobody does it better than Canadians.”

The convention also marked the unveiling of the PDAC’s new logo, something that Nolan says involved a lot of consultation and thought.

“We spent more than a year conducting research including interviews, workshops and surveys to create this image,” Nolan reveals. “I strongly believe that our new logo and brand reflects our status as the voice of the mineral exploration and development community.”

PDAC’s Executive Director Ross Gallinger had a huge smile on his face, ecstatic about the excellent turnout again for this year’s international conference.

“It was another solid year for attendance along with some great technical sessions and a strong lineup of speakers including Perrin Beatty’s discussion on Canada’s contribution to innovation,” he smiles. “All in all, it was a huge success again.” 

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