CALGARY, AB—Alberta has unseated New Brunswick as the best place in Canada for mining investment while Quebec continues to lose the confidence of the international mining community, according to the annual global survey of mining executives released today by the Fraser Institute.
Alberta ranks as the top province, a position it held in 2011. Globally, Alberta ranks third. New Brunswick, which vaulted to the top of the global rankings from 23rd last year, is now regarded as the second best mining jurisdiction in Canada and fourth globally.
“Miners praise Alberta and New Brunswick for their transparent, straightforward, and productive approach to mining policy,” said Kenneth Green, Fraser Institute senior director of energy and natural resources and director of the Survey of Mining Companies: 2012/2013.
“Alberta and New Brunswick offer competitive taxation regimes, sound legal systems, and relatively low uncertainty around land claims. That’s what miners are looking for.”
The Fraser Institute’s Survey of Mining Companies: 2012/2013 is based on the opinions of mining executives representing 742 mineral exploration and development companies on the investment climate of 96 jurisdictions around the world (new additions this year include French Guiana, Greece, Serbia, and the subnational jurisdictions of La Rioja and Neuquen in Argentina). The companies participating in the survey reported exploration spending of $6.2 billion US in 2012 and $5.4 billion US in 2011.
The survey also reveals that Quebec appears to have lost its mining edge: the province ranked 11th out of 96 jurisdictions this year, down from fifth in 2012. Quebec ranked first worldwide from 2007 to 2010.
“Falling from No. 1 to 11th in just three years tells us that the mining policies of the Quebec government, particularly uncertainty around changes to the provincial mining act and proposed royalty hikes, are a serious concern to the global mining community,” Green said.
By comparison, Finland and Sweden, two countries often held up as paragons of environmental protection, are ranked first and second worldwide in this year’s survey.
“The confidence miners have in Finland and Sweden proves that resource development and environmental protection can go hand in hand. Quebec’s political leaders should take note,” Green said.
Canadian jurisdictions claimed three of the global top 10 spots this year, with Alberta unchanged at third, New Brunswick falling to fourth from first, and the Yukon climbing to eighth from 10th.
The remaining provinces and territories generally fared well in the view of the international mining sector, with Nova Scotia placing 12th, Saskatchewan 13th, Ontario 16th, Newfoundland and Labrador 18th, Manitoba 21st, Northwest Territories 29th, British Columbia 31st, and Nunavut 37th out of 96 jurisdictions.
Worldwide, the top 10 mining destinations are Finland, Sweden, Alberta, New Brunswick, Wyoming, Ireland, Nevada, Yukon, Utah, and Norway. Eight of the same jurisdictions ranked among the top 10 last year; newcomers include Utah (which jumped to ninth from 21st) and Norway (which climbed to 10th from 24th), replacing Saskatchewan and Quebec.
Ranking as the world’s worst mining jurisdictions are Indonesia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Guatemala, Philippines, and Greece.
The report also notes that miners are pessimistic about short term commodity prices, reporting that they expect nearly level or reduced prices for silver, copper, diamonds, coal, zinc, nickel, potash, and platinum with only gold expected to increase in value significantly. In the longer term, miners expect stable or moderate price increases.
Miners’ investment intentions reflect a cautious outlook: 46 per cent of respondents said they plan to increase their exploration budgets in 2013, compared to 68 per cent in 2012.
“In order to compete for investment on the global mining stage, jurisdictions need not only stellar resource potential but also a stable, certain, straightforward mining policy framework,” Green said.
“Reduce red tape, minimize risk with regard to policy changes and tax increases, respect negotiated contracts: that’s how you woo the global mining sector.”