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Canada to boost support for mining, but faces challenges

by Cecilia Jamasmie | September 18, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is ready to launch an aggressive campaign to promote the country’s mining sector abroad, in an effort to redirect trade spending and foreign affairs to core economic interests.

Canada to boost support for mining, but faces challenges

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces support
for Northern Innovation in Mining, August 2013.
(Photo: PMO)

Ed Fast, the international trade minister, began Wednesday a cross-country campaign to get feedback from experts and actors on what kind of support they think the government should offer mining companies.

According to the Globe and Mail, the move comes as the Harper administration starts warming up its campaign machine for the 2015 elections.

But Harper faces a challenging scenario. As a result of the global mining slowdown, Canada’s mining sector has been hit hard by weak commodity prices and lack of interest from foreign and local investors.

For the first time in a decade, Canada’s normally bustling resource industry failed to book a single initial public offering (IPO) on either the Toronto Stock Exchange or the TSX Venture Exchange in the first quarter of the year, a PwC survey revealed.

Tarnished name

While Canada remains the world’s top destination for mining investments, the sector has built a less-than-popular reputation abroad. Local miners have faced domestic opposition to their projects in all parts of the globe, including Greece, Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Israel.

In January, for example, hundreds of Greeks protested in Thessaloniki against several gold mining projects owned by Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD.

The following month, Catholic priests and small-scale miners marched with 5,000 locals in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, against a project owned by Vancouver-based B2Gold TSX:BTO.

In April tens of thousands of Colombians took to the streets of Bucaramanga, the country’s sixth-largest city, to defend their water supply from Vancouver-based Eco Oro Minerals’ TSX:EOM gold project.

Recently, Toronto-based Barrick Gold TSX:ABX admitted before a Chilean judge it had committed several violations in regards to its touted $8.5-billion Pascua Lama gold and silver project, straddling the border of Chile and Argentina.

And the most fresh example is the renewed opposition Gabriel Resources TSX:GBU faces in Romania because of its Rosia Montana gold project. Only yesterday the country’s president, Traian Basescu, asked Parliament to withdraw a bill that would allow the London-based Canadian miner to move forward.

However the future looks auspicious. Canada is among the top five producers of potash, uranium, nickel, platinum, aluminum, diamonds and steel-making coal. And global demand for commodities is expected to grow by up to 75% over the next 15 years, according to the world’s No. 1 miner, BHP Billiton NYE:BHP.

Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

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