Interview With the Honourable Pierre Corbeil
CMJ: The exploration and deposit appraisal spending in 2005 in Qubec stayed about the same as in 2004. Do you expect it to increase or decrease in 2006?
PC: I’m not telling you anything new when I say that Qubec is in the middle of a very positive mining cycle. In 2005, more than $200 million was spent on exploration in Qubec. Gold, nickel, diamonds, copper, zinc, iron and uranium are the most highly sought-after substances.
The data we have clearly show that mining companies plan to continue expanding exploration and development spending. These results definitely measure up to Qubec’s expectations for the mining sector. We have no lack of projects in Qubec, quite the contrary. However, we must find a solution for the lack of available workers.
CMJ: Many of the fiscal programs (such as flow-through share incentives, tax holidays) and information technology programs (such as online staking) that your province created are now being emulated by other provinces and countries. What can you do to make Qubec even more attractive to mining companies?
PC: Qubec supports the mining industry by offering the most advantageous tax incentives in Canada. Credits can cover up to 57% of eligible exploration expenses. What’s more, new mines north of the 55th parallel are granted a 10-year mining duties holiday.
The government of Qubec hopes to go further to renew mine reserves over economic cycles. We will continue to build our geoscientific knowledge, intensify exploration activities, and improve effectiveness.
For example, over the past two years, our ministry via Gologie Qubec was able to identify very promising targets for copper and gold exploration deriving from the SIGOM [Systme d’information gominire] database. The results speak for themselves: 150 copper targets were released in March 2005 while 313 gold targets were disclosed last March. And new promising targets will regularly be made available to mining companies, notably at Qubec Exploration 2006 this November.
No doubt for all these reasons, this year the Fraser Institute rated Qubec first in Canada for investment climate and fifth in the world.
CMJ: Val d’Or has been designated as a “mining pole”, where the bulk of the province’s investments in exploration and deposit development are being made. What is your government doing to enhance the area for exploration and development? What results do you expect to come from this program?
PC: In 2006/2007 as a part of Qubec’s copper plan, an additional $1 million will be spent collecting new field data in the Abitibi-Tmiscamingue and Nord-du-Qubec regions. In 2007/2008, this budget will be $2 million. The government has also committed to increasing permanent staffing levels at the Val d’Or office in the short term.
As well, our business partnership with the Ontario Geological Survey and Geological Survey of Canada as part of the Targeted Geosciences Initiative (TGI-3) will enable us to substantially boost the overall budget and human resources devoted to acquiring new geoscientific knowledge on the renewal of copper resources in Abitibi-Tmiscamingue and Nord-du-Qubec.
So, we hope to act quickly in identifying and promoting new high-potential sectors, particularly for copper. In the medium term, we envisage an increase in private sector copper exploration spending. We feel confident that new copper mines will ensure the sustainability and further development of the Horne smelter in Rouyn-Noranda.
By creating the Bureau de l’exploration gologique with its head office in Val d’Or and by transferring SOQUEM staff there as well, our government has clearly demonstrated that Abitibi-Tmiscamingue is an important mining hub in Qubec.
CMJ: What message would you like to deliver to the Canadian mining industry?
PC: Qubec has solid know-how in all the various fields of mineral production. Recently, we recognized Abitibi-Tmiscamingue as the lead region in building this expertise, notably in underground techno-mines. The networking of Qubec’s mining sector with Ontario’s and eventually with other jurisdictions will enable us to make the Abitibi-Tmiscamingue region a true world-class Canadian centre of excellence.
As well, I expect Qubec to have a solid strategy for projecting the success of its mining industry. This is my vision for Qubec.