Saskatchewan is the world’s third-most attractive region for mining investment, topped only by Nevada and Western Australia, according to the Fraser Institute’s latest Annual Survey of Mining Companies.
The report ranked 62 jurisdictions worldwide on geologic attractiveness (minerals and metals), as well as whether government policies encourage or deter exploration and investment (including permit times).
“While geologic and economic considerations are important factors in mineral exploration, a region’s policy climate is also an important investment consideration,” the report said.
This is the fifth time in six years that Saskatchewan has ranked in the global top three, though it fell from No. 2 in last year’s survey.
Saskatchewan isn’t the only Canadian jurisdiction that made the top 10, with Newfoundland and Labrador coming in at No. 4 and Quebec at No. 8.
But the report said some Canadian provinces and territories are failing to capitalize on their strong mineral potential, largely because they’re lacking a solid policy environment to attract investment.
For example, Ontario, Manitoba and Yukon all rank among the world’s top 10 most attractive jurisdictions for mineral potential, but fall to spots 18, 24 and 31, respectively, on policy factors.
“A sound regulatory regime coupled with competitive taxes make a jurisdiction attractive to investors,” Elmira Aliakbari, director of the Fraser Institute’s Centre for Natural Resource Studies and co-author of the study, said in a press release. “Policymakers across the globe should understand that mineral deposits alone are not enough to attract investment.”
Investor concerns over disputed land claims, protected areas and environmental regulations continue to be a major policy hurdle for British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. Uncertainty about protected areas, including which ones are off limits for mining exploration and production, is among the top three policy-related barriers to investment in the Atlantic provinces.
“Overregulation works as a deterrent to investment,” an unnamed president at a producer said in the report. “The project I was working on met all regulatory requirements, but still had to apply for a court order (mandamus) before the B.C. government granted the permit.”
Canada is also emerging as a preferred jurisdiction for green investments by the global mining industry, according to a separate report by DBRS Morningstar.
The report found that mining companies across the world are increasingly embracing Canada for investing in new technologies needed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission targets.
Part of the reason is because Ottawa’s federal budget for 2023 introduced a range of new tax incentives for sustainable investing in Canada.
But that’s not the only reason global mining players are attracted to Canada.
Other compelling reasons include:
- The abundance of hydroelectric power generation
- The availability of advanced research and development centres in mining and processing industries
- An extensive resource base of most of the 31 critical minerals identified by Ottawa for driving economic growth in the green economy
- A highly skilled and experienced labour force