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Mining-friendly federal budget to fund rare earths and chromite research

by Greg Klein | April 22, 2015

Canadian mining groups welcomed a number of industry stimulants in the federal budget tabled April 21, among them a $23-million, five-year allocation to unlock rare earths and chromite production. The money, channelled through Natural Resource Canada, would “address the technical challenges of separating and processing rare earth elements for use in advanced manufacturing applications and products,” said a statement from Finance Minister Joe Oliver. “Funding will also support the development of efficient and green processing technologies to reduce the environmental impacts of chromite production.”

Mining-friendly federal budget to fund rare earths and chromite research

Canada could provide 20% of
global rare earths demand, Ottawa stated.

The budget document added, “Canada has the possibility to play a leading role in supplying rare earth elements by potentially fulfilling 20% of global demand.”

The Mining Association of Canada saw a number of industry benefits, including renewed funding for the Targeted Geoscience Initiative, aboriginal training and environmental assessment. “Mining now accounts for a large majority of federal environmental assessments,” MAC stated. “Support for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and other federal permitting departments, is essential to ensure the timely and effective review of major mining projects.”

Speaking for the Mining Association of B.C., president/CEO Karina Briño said her group will continue “to work with our provincial and federal partners towards one process for environmental assessments in British Columbia.”

The feds also extended the 15% flow-through tax credit for mineral exploration to March 2016. Calling for a permanent credit, Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia chairperson David McLelland said a PDAC study had found “72% of exploration-stage financing from 2012 through 2014 was by flow-through shares that are made possible by the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit.”

The costs of environmental studies and community consultations necessary for an exploration permit will now be eligible tax deductions. In B.C. those expenses totalled over 21% of exploration spending in 2012, according to AME B.C.

The extension of borrowing limits for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut should encourage infrastructure development, MAC noted. Additional funds for marine safety and the overseas Trade Commissioner Service would also benefit miners, the group pointed out.

MAC president/CEO Pierre Gratton said, “Given the current financial situation and the need for fiscal discipline, I am pleased to see the federal government renew investment in critical areas.”

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