“Mining Day on the Hill”

Mr. Speaker, today I want to bring to the attention of this Chamber a number of federal government programs which have been instrumental in the successful growth of the mining industry in Nunavut.  My remarks are particularly timely because today is “Mining Day on the Hill” when the Mining Association of Canada and its members profile the “Canadian and Global Mining Scene: its Contributions, Opportunities and Issues”.

First, Senators should be aware of how critical the Mining Exploration Tax Credit METC) is to the industry in the north and all across Canada.  The METC is a measure designed to assist junior mining companies in raising new equity through the issuance of flow-through shares.  The program helps to maintain Canada’s competitiveness in the face of fierce global competition for exploration investment and helps to keep exploration dollars in Canada, particularly in northern and rural areas.  It has been in place since 2004.

Exploration spending  in Nunavut demonstrates just how successful the METC has been.  For example, between 2006 and 2009, exploration spending amounted to $1.17B.  More recently, Natural Resources Canada estimates that Nunavut exploration expenditures will be in the order of $322.8M in 2011, up from $263.8M in 2010.  Nunavut’s share of all Canadian exploration spending in 2011 was an amazing 10%.

However, the success of the mining industry in Nunavut, which I spoke of last week in my statement on the Meadowbank  gold mine and other Nunavut exploration and production projects, cannot be solely attributed to the METC.

Of critical importance has been Natural Resources Canada’s Geo-Mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) program.  With $100 in funding over five years, the GEM program is currently in year four of its five year mandate.

The GEM program seeks to complete geological mapping of the 60 percent of the North not yet assessed to modern standards.  For example, in large areas of the North, the public geosciences knowledge base is not up to standards necessary for private sector exploration companies to take informed investment decisions, as well as for governments to take precise land-use decisions such as the creation of parks.  Geo-mapping is particularly important to all three territories, although the need is particularly acute in Nunavut and the NWT.  Adequate geological knowledge exists for only about one third of Nunavut.

With respect to accomplishments, GEM results have influenced private-sector investment decisions, including for iron-ore on Melville Island, Nunavut; diamonds on southeast Baffin Island in Nunavut;  and, copper, gold and silver in Yukon.  Econometric studies suggest that a $100M investment in GEM will result in upwards of $500M to be spent by the private sector in exploration and development related to the GEM results.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the important role which HRSDC’s Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Program (ASEP) has had in the recent success of the mining industry all across the north.  ASEP has been particularly instrumental in encouraging industry to train northern Aboriginal residents for work in the mining industry.  For example, the Mine Training  Societies in Yukon, NWT and the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, which receive ASEP funding, will have placed 1,400 Aboriginal employees by 2012.  The average salary of these jobs in $85K plus.  For many Aboriginal employees, the mine training opportunity and transition to a wage based life style has fundamentally changed their lives.

In closing, Mining Day on the Hill events today included a luncheon hosted by the Economic Club of Canada where the Hon. Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, delivered a keynote address.  As well, there will be a reception this evening at the Chateau Laurier which I encourage Senators to attend.

Thank you.

Statement – Federal Support for Northern Mining Industry