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Mining sector digs deep to sustain industry growth

OTTAWA, Ont. - With all the talk of the oilpatch boom, it appears the thriving mining industry has been overlooked. But in four short years, manufacturing shipments of petroleum and coal products in C...

MINING WEALTH: Canada's mines are thriving, creating opportunities for trucking companies that service them.Photo by Steven Macleod

MINING WEALTH: Canada's mines are thriving, creating opportunities for trucking companies that service them.Photo by Steven Macleod

OTTAWA, Ont. – With all the talk of the oilpatch boom, it appears the thriving mining industry has been overlooked. But in four short years, manufacturing shipments of petroleum and coal products in Canada nearly doubled their financial output, while finances spent on mineral exploration matched the industry’s growth.

In 2002, petroleum and coal products accounted for $33.7 billion in manufacturing shipments; and by 2006 those shipments grew to $59.2 billion. During the same time span, mineral exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures in Canada grew from $573.4 million to $1.7 billion.

The steady growth of the mining sector in Canada led to a number of provinces recording record years in 2006. Soaring metal prices helped push the value of Manitoba’s mining industry to an all-time high of more than $2 billion in 2006.

“This is exciting news for our mining sector and is more than 10 times the average annual increase over the last five years,” said Jim Rondeau, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines. “We will continue to work with industry stakeholders to foster an attractive investment climate for the minerals sector.”

Production involving Manitoba’s top four metals alone – nickel, copper, zinc and gold – reached $1.878 billion in 2006, up from $1.067 billion in 2005, an increase of 75.9%.

Adding $209 million of production for other metals such as silver, cobalt and platinum, and non-metallic minerals such as gravel and aggregates, the sub-sector’s total value of production reached $2.1 billion, up from $1.3 billion in 2005.

Company exploration in Manitoba is also at an all-time high registering $52.9 million for 2005 and $52 million estimated for 2006.

The province supports exploration through the Mineral Exploration Assistance Program (MEAP) offering $2.5 million annually in direct financial incentives. Funding from the last MEAP offering in November 2006 is assisting 39 new mineral exploration projects that will generate an estimated $34.4 million in expenditures. Since 1999 there have been more than 400 exploration projects completed and $106 million in exploration expenditures reported.

In the Yukon, the territory’s government will be shifting from exploration incentives to development and mining incentives.

“In the past five years, exploration activity in the Yukon has increased ten-fold from $8 million in 2002 to over $80 million in 2006,” said Archie Lang, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. “With additional investments in mine development at the Minto Copper project coupled with increasingly dynamic and innovative development by companies such as Yukon Zinc and Pacifica, total exploration and development expenditures for 2006 and 2007 may surpass a quarter of a billion dollars.”

With about 70 exploration projects in the Yukon, of which 10 are in advanced development stages, the Yukon government will now focus on helping projects become operating mines.

“We will look at ways to increase Yukon’s mining competitiveness by lowering the cost of exploration, and providing incentives for mine development,” Lang added. “These proposals will help to establish Yukon as a favoured destination for mining investment in Canada.”

On the West Coast, B.C. felt similar growth in the mining sector as investment in mineral exploration soared to a record-high $265 million. As well, 16% of exploration investment in Canada is in B.C. – an increase from 6% in 2001 – with 750 exploration projects currently underway.

“Mining is now a $6-billion industry in B.C. Mining is essential for building our communities, schools and homes and it provides us with the products we use every day,” said Kevin Krueger, Minister of State for Mining. “The B.C. mining sector is a thriving industry attracting investment from around the globe that provides well-paying jobs to thousands of British Columbians across the province.”

Three new mines opened in B.C. during 2006, and increased exploration will lead to even more mine developments, providing a boost to local economies creating increased demand for skilled workers.

In Alberta, the growing mining sector is being spurred on by oilsands exploration. In 2005, the Alberta oilsands were the source of about 58% of the province’s total crude oil and equivalent production; and about 39% of all crude oil and equivalent produced in Canada. In the three fiscal years leading up to 2006, oilsands development returned $1.865 billion to Albertans in the form of royalties paid to the provincial government.

With 69 oilsands projects underway in Alberta, investment announcements in the province between 1996 and 2016 have been approximately $87 billion.

The large investment in Alberta’s oilsands has created infrastructure problems in Northern Alberta and in 2006/2007, Alberta municipalities will receive more than $1 billion in government funding through a variety of grant programs, in an effort to ensure oilsands mining continues in its expanding production.

According to Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci, Ontario’s booming mineral development sector and the increasing value of mineral production is confirming the province’s status as a premier destination for mining and mineral exploration investment.

“Our distinct advantages are attracting mineral investment from around the world which is fuelling very considerable mineral development and job creation,” he stated.

Recently released statistics show that: The total value of mineral production rose to $9.4 billion in 2006, contributing to Ontario’s economy. Active mining claim units reached 229,000 in 2006, attaining record levels for the third consecutive year and exploration expenditures are projected to rise above $300 million in 2006, the third consecutive year expenditures will reach this level.

The province is one of Canada’s top producers of base metals, precious metals and industrial minerals. On the global stage, it ranks fifth in nickel production, fifth in cobalt, fourth in platinum, 11th in gold, 13th in copper, 15th in silver and 17th in zinc.

“We are promoting prosperity across the province with our government’s commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability and global competitiveness of Ontario’s mineral development industry,” said Bartolucci. “The economic benefits of mineral production are clearly evident throughout the entire province but particularly in Northern Ontario, where many communities depend on mineral development activity.”

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