Canada has long been the dominant global mining nation – in mineral production, mining finance, mining services and supplies, and sustainability and safety, but Mining Association of Canada (MAC) president and CEO Pierre Gratton has warned that there are signs this position is slipping.
Citing data from the MAC’s yearly flagship 'Facts & Figures' report, released on Wednesday, Gratton says that while 2020 saw a modest increase in the value of projects planned and under construction until 2030, the total ten-year projected value of C$82-billion remains nearly 50% below the 2014 level of C$160-billion.
“There is certainly room to improve our standing,” Gratton says, adding that the federal budget, which will be announced in the coming weeks, offers the government an opportunity to better position the Canadian mining sector, and those industries relying on it for its products, to succeed.
Canada’s ability to provide the resources necessary for a lower carbon future requires effective policy and regulation support to be the supplier that the world needs. This, Gratton notes, is important now more than ever with increasing geopolitical tensions magnifying the precariousness of existing sources of critical materials.
“While the introduction of the ‘mines-to-mobility’ approach to developing Canada's battery supply chain and the subsequent inclusion of a domestic electric-vehicle (EV) battery supply chain as a pillar under the Strategic Innovation Fund's net-zero accelerator are encouraging, more can be done to truly seize the opportunity to play a leadership role in being the preferred supplier of mined materials.”
The MAC states in the 'Facts & Figures' report that Canada’s economy is dependent on foreign direct investment, and that tax competitiveness and regulatory certainty are critical determinants of the country's investment attractiveness. It, therefore, recommends that a number of critical measures be considered for the effective and efficient regulation of the mining industry, including sound implementation of the federal Impact Assessment Act; access to prospective lands; and continued and expanded investments in remote and northern infrastructure.
The report also states that, for the federal government’s 'mines-to-mobility' strategy to work, policy must bolster and strengthen Canada’s critical mineral supply chains in all regions of the country, both on and off grid.
"Addressing climate change, while preventing carbon leakage, is critical to ensuring Canada’s 'best-in-class' mining sector becomes a supplier of choice to meet global demand for raw materials in the most sustainable and environmentally responsible way possible."
Respecting the country’s biodiversity also continues to be a priority for the sector and ensuring appropriate approaches to conserving species at risk will play a pivotal role in Canada’s exploration and mining future.
Regarding the participation of Indigenous People in the minerals sector, the MAC says governments must support enhanced participation of, and partnerships with, Indigenous communities in the sector through foundational social investments in areas such as health, education and housing, and by targeting funding for skills training and entrepreneurship to assist Indigenous peoples in securing employment and business development opportunities generated by the industry.