CANADIAN MINING PERSPECTIVES: What the industry needs now

Our friends at the Ontario Mining Association in Toronto are not wasting any time recommending budget measures that...

Our friends at the Ontario Mining Association in Toronto are not wasting any time recommending budget measures that will support the province's mineral industry. In a letter submitted to the Hon. Dwight Duncan, Ontario Minister of Finance, the OMA explains in plain language the role of global markets in the health of our industry. Nickel, palladium and gold producers are retrenching as commodity prices fall, development is being delayed, and exploration is falling by the wayside.


"The return from even one new mine in the future is huge for the province," said the OMA. "A study completed by the University of Toronto … shows that one representative mine in Ontario directly employs 480 people, indirectly employs more than 1,800 people, contributes about $280 million to the gross domestic product and provides $84 million in tax revenue annually."


Rather than lose such a powerful industrial sector, the OMA urges Ontario to make strategic investments in the mining sector to promote future economic development and take action to improve the industry's global competitive position. Specifically


•  More investment in geological mapping.

•  Investment in human resources including skills training and apprenticeships.

•  Investment in mineral exploration incentives.

•  Provide regulatory and monetary incentives for green innovation and research.


The OMA praised the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines for its efforts to modernize the Ontario Mining Act in an expeditious fashion. "The need for certainty in the rules cannot be overemphasized," it said.


On the topic of land use planning, the OMA urged the government to set economic development targets—such as 10 new mines in the next 10 years—as well as the conservation targets it is setting.


The OMA also listed ongoing concerns including the high price of electricity, the high workers' compensation rates, and the need to streamline the permitting process. Lastly, the association called for the government to institute a process whereby new policies, standards and regulations are assessed for their effect on competitiveness before decisions are made.


All the OMA recommendations are important, but I particularly like the last one. To assess the effect of government decisions on competitiveness seems like a no-brainer. But time after time, the rules are changed to suit a political agenda and the changes hurt our industry's ability to compete worldwide. And sometimes, the rules are thoughtlessly changed again, further compounding the problem. I support all efforts by the OMA to teach our politicians about the real world economy and the places of Canadian industries in it.


The letter, signed by OMA president Chris Hodgson, may be read in its entirety at 038463/OMA/eNews/prebudgetletter.htm.


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