CANADIAN MINING PERSPECTIVE: Why Quebec, not Ontario, tops the list

A week ago in this space we examined the results of Fraser Institute's latest survey of the best places in the...

A week ago in this space we examined the results of Fraser Institute's latest survey of the best places in the world to explore for minerals. For the third straight year, Quebec is rated No.1.

Part of the reason must be that Quebec values the mineral industry's economic contribution to the province. The Association minière du Québec (AMQ) and the Association de l'exploration minière du Québec (AEMQ) studied the mining sector from a value chain angle, beginning with exploration through to mining and first transformation. It was the first time such a study was undertaken.

The results provide a new perspective on an industry that contributes significantly to Quebec's economic recovery. There are $4 billion of announced mining investment projects scheduled before 2013.

The complete study is available on the web sites of the AMQ ( and the AEMQ (

Contrast that to the fall of Ontario from 10th place in the Fraser survey to 22nd place.

A possible underlying reason for the decline came in the form of correspondence with Richard Beard of Northwest Mineral Development Services in Kenora, ON.

"I think the Ontario government should ask itself why it fell to 22nd place as favourable place to explore. Could it be that they are doing something wrong?" he wrote. "I worked for the Ontario government in the various ministries responsible for mining for 25 years, and was part of a team that drafted major revisions to the Mining Act over a decade ago. After extensive consultation with the public, other Ontario ministries, the mining industry and other mining jurisdictions in Canada, the team came up with a final draft that we felt would protect the public interest and the environment, and would somewhat reluctantly (nobody likes change) be accepted by the mining industry.

"[The draft] then passed into the hands of the politicians who put their political spin on it. It wasn't surprising that what finally was passed by the legislature turned out to be costly and difficult to work with by both our Ministry and the industry, especially junior exploration companies without deep pockets," Beard continued.

"What is so sad about the current situation is the fact that the changes being imposed, which are meant to benefit the public and the Aboriginal people, are ending up doing more harm than good since further investment in the development of the province's natural resources are being directed to more friendly jurisdictions.

"Change is inevitable. The challenge for any government is to ensure that, overall, the positive effects of change outweighs the negative effects. This doesn't seem to be happening now in Ontario. Politics is a fact of life that we just have to live with, I guess," he concluded.

If government jurisdictions make exploration and mining difficult within their borders, they will lose billions of dollars in economic advantages. Short-sighted politicians are denying their constituents considerable wealth.


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