Category Archives: other minerals
A return to optimism in mining puts Canada at a crossroads
February 16, 2017
The Canadian Mining Association
To download a copy of Facts & Figures 2016, go HERE
Action needed for Canada to capitalize on potential rebound
Cautious optimism is returning to the global mining industry, which could spur mining companies to make new and significant investments. However, a new report from the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) shows evidence of declining Canadian competitiveness and the prospect for major exploration and mining investments to flow offshore.
“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally. The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness. The time is now to put the right policy pieces in place to better compete for those investments and regain our leadership in mining,” stated Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC.
MAC’s Facts & Figures 2016 report notes several indicators that reveal that Canada is not as competitive as it once was. Foreign direct investment into Canada’s mining sector dropped by more than 50 percent year-over-year in 2015. This is disproportionate to Canadian mining direct investment abroad, which only experienced a 6 percent decline. This imbalance indicates that companies are investing in project development, but may be less interested in doing so in Canada. Canada also no longer attracts the single-largest share of total global mineral exploration spending, having conceded first place to Australia in 2015. Further, no new mining projects entered the federal environmental assessment stage in 2016. If these trends continue, there will be fewer discoveries made and fewer projects that become operational mines in Canada.
“The policy landscape in Canada is full of uncertainty as we await the outcomes of major government decisions. The federal government is reviewing federal environmental legislation, is implementing a pan-Canadian climate change policy, and is working to address long-standing transportation and infrastructure issues. These are all necessary and positive steps, but they must result in boosting Canada’s attractiveness as a place to do business. At risk is a key sector of our economy, and one that leads the world in sustainable mining practices,” stated Gratton.
MAC’s report also revealed the mining industry remained a strong contributor to the Canadian economy despite the downturn in 2015. The industry directly employed more than 370,000 people across Canada and remained the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people on a proportional basis. An additional 190,000 worked indirectly in mining, with more than 3,700 companies supplying goods and services to the Canadian mining industry. In 2015, the mining industry accounted for $56 billion of Canada’s GDP and minerals and metals accounted for 19% of Canadian goods exports.
Policies that improve Canada’s mining competitiveness:
1) Improve the federal project review process – the process should be effective and timely, from pre-environmental assessment (EA) to post-EA permitting, with meaningful consultation with Aboriginal communities.
2) Invest in critical infrastructure in remote and northern regions – introduce strategic tax measures and ensure the new Canada Infrastructure Bank has a strong economic development focus for northern Canada.
3) Improve access to trade – ensure trade policies provide access to new and important markets, including China, and improve Canada’s transportation network to more efficiently move mineral and metal products to market.
4) Address climate change while protecting Canadian businesses – adopt policies that lead to meaningful greenhouse gas emissions while protecting emissions intensive and trade-exposed industries (EITI), like the mining industry. Failing to protect EITI sectors will result in “carbon leakage”—the shifting of production and the associated economic benefits from countries that are taking action on climate to those that are not.
5) Help expedite industry innovation – The Canada Mining Innovation Council is seeking a $50 million investment for the Towards Zero Waste Mining innovation strategy from the Government of Canada to accelerate the adoption of disruptive technologies that will support the transition to a lower carbon future.
To download a copy of Facts & Figures 2016, go HERE
The Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry. Its members account for most of Canada’s production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication. Please visit www.mining.ca.
Canada losing ground as mining investment destination
Feb 16, 2017
Source: MAC’s Facts & Figures 2016.
While optimism is slowly but steadily returning to the global mining industry, Canada doesn’t seem to be in a good position to benefit from the increasing number of companies ready to make new and significant investments.
At least that is the conclusion from a report released Thursday by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), which also warns of the possibility of seeing major exploration and mining investments flow offshore.
“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally,” MAC President and CEO Pierre Gratton said.
Elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays, uncertainty and major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing to the country’s declining appeal.
The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness, Gratton noted.
The report also highlights the policy areas that Canada needs to pay attention to in order to seize future growth opportunities and re-gain its leadership in mining.
Some of the figures included in the report are quite telling. In 2015, foreign direct investment into Canada’s mining industry dropped by more than 50% from the previous year. In contrast, the country’s resources sector direct investment abroad only experienced a 6% decline.
According the industry body, such imbalance proves that Canada no longer attracts the single-largest share of total global mineral exploration spending, a top place it lost to Australia in 2015. Further, MAC says, no new mining projects entered the federal environmental assessment stage in 2016.
If these trends continue, the association warns, there will be fewer discoveries made and fewer projects to become operational mines in Canada.
Despite the challenges, the sector remains a key contributor to the Canadian economy, employing more than 370,000 people across the country and being the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people on a proportional basis.
In 2015, the mining industry accounted for $56 billion of Canada’s GDP and minerals and metals accounted for 19% of Canadian goods exports.
Wall on energy – let’s stop the misrepresentation of this industry and instead focus on continued innovation
From Brad Wall’s Facebook Page:
Some in this country are uncomfortable with our energy sector..as an energy-producing nation, we need to address that.
The world will be primarily dependent on coal, oil and gas for decades. Saskatchewan and Canada is one of the safest and most sustainable producers of that energy.
So let’s stop the misrepresentation of this industry and instead focus on continued innovation to ensure Saskatchewan and Canada are global leaders in supplying energy to a world that needs it.
White House eyeing executive order on ‘conflict minerals’ rule: sources
SARAH N. LYNCH AND EMILY STEPHENSON
WASHINGTON — Reuters
Published Wednesday, Feb. 08, 2017 8:19AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 08, 2017 8:21AM EST
President Donald Trump is planning to issue an executive order targeting a controversial Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain “conflict minerals” from a war-torn part of Africa, according to sources familiar with the administration’s thinking.
Reuters could not learn the precise timing of when the order will be issued, or exactly what it will say.
However, the 2010 Dodd-Frank law explicitly gives the president authority to order the Securities and Exchange Commission to temporarily suspend or revise the rule for two years if it is in the national security interest of the United States.
The sources spoke anonymously because it is not public and they were not authorized to speak on the record.
The plan for the executive order comes on the heels of another order issued by the White House last week that takes aim more broadly at the Dodd-Frank rules put into place after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
That order did not single out any one particular rule, but it called on the Treasury Secretary to consult with other regulators, including the SEC, and to come back with a report outlining possible regulatory changes and legislation.
The conflict minerals rule is one of several disclosure regulations that was tucked into Dodd-Frank that are unrelated to the financial crisis itself.
A second Dodd-Frank SEC disclosure rule that required oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments, meanwhile, was repealed by the Republican-controlled Congress last week.
The conflict minerals rule was pushed by human rights groups who want companies to tell investors if their products contain tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the hopes it will help curb the funding of armed groups.
But business groups have staunchly opposed the measure, saying it forces companies to furnish politically-charged information that is irrelevant to making investment decisions.
They have also complained it costs too much money for companies to trace the source of the minerals through the supply chain.
In 2014, a U.S. appeals court struck down a part of the conflict minerals law after the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers sued the SEC over the rule.
The court found part of it violated the free speech rights of companies by forcing them to publicly state that their products are not conflict free.
The rest of the rule, however, remained intact and companies are still required to carry out due diligence and report the details of those inquiries in public reports filed with the SEC.
The SEC cannot permanently repeal the rule without a law passed by Congress. However, it can use its broad exemptive powers to scale back some of the requirements or stop enforcing the rule entirely.
Last week, Acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar took steps toward doing just that, by announcing he has asked SEC staff to reconsider how companies should comply with it and whether “additional relief” is warranted.
Piwowar did not explicitly ask Trump to utilize his powers under Dodd-Frank to temporality suspend the rule; however, in his statement, he spoke about how he had traveled to Africa to study the rule’s impact and raised concerns about its effect on national security
Liberals know how much its carbon tax will cost consumers — but won’t tell you
David Akin | February 6, 2017 | Last Updated: Feb 7 8:22 AM ET
OTTAWA — Federal finance department officials have calculated how much more Canadian households could pay each year as a result of a pending federal carbon tax but neither the department nor Finance Minister Bill Morneau will share those details.
Morneau is being challenged in Parliament by Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre to publish that information while Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who, like Poilievre, is an opponent of a federal carbon tax, has been challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do the same.
Both men say they believe the Trudeau government should provide Canadians with information about the financial consequences to individual households of the pending carbon tax.
For his part, Poilievre, who served as a minister in Stephen Harper’s notoriously disclosure-averse cabinet, has been using federal access to information laws as well as his prerogative as a member of Parliament to compel the government to disclose the cost of carbon taxes to Canadian households.
In the House of Commons Monday, Poilievre pressed Morneau to table that information.
“The measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable. That is why I asked how it is this carbon tax will impact on the poorest Canadians,” Poilievre said during question period. “At first, the government said, ‘No such data exists’. Then it said, ‘It exists; we just don’t want to tell you what it is.’ That is the current position of the government, that it wants to keep secret from Canadians, the most vulnerable Canadians, those with the least, the impact of this heavy new carbon tax on heat, hydro, gas and electricity.”
Trudeau has told provinces that they must, by 2018, put a price on carbon at a level high enough that they can help Canada achieve its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But he has also said on numerous occasions that he expects provinces to use whatever revenue they generate by pricing carbon to be turned back to the citizens of that province to help offset any increase in the prices of goods or services.
One of the documents Poilievre received under federal access-to-information laws is an internal finance department memo written on Oct. 20, 2015, in which the department tries to figure out the financial impact of a federal carbon tax on different kinds of voters.
The memo, titled “Impact of a carbon price on households’ consumption costs across the income distribution” was written by Jean-François Perreault. Perreault was then an assistant deputy minister at Finance Canada. He left the finance department in the spring of 2016 to join Scotiabank as its chief economist.
Much of Perreault’s memo, a copy of which was provided to the National Post by Poilievre’s office, has been heavily redacted by government censors.
But Perreault is crystal clear on this point: Pricing carbon, be it through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, will hit consumers in the pocketbook.
“These higher costs (which) would then cascade through the economy in the form of higher prices, thus leading all firms and consumers to pay more for good and services with higher carbon content.”
In the memo, Perreault prepared a table that laid out several different carbon pricing scenarios and, for each scenario, assessed how it would affect the value of all Canadian economic activity; how much revenue would be produced for governments; and how many fewer megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions would be genereated in each scenario. All the numbers, though, in that table were blacked out.
Poilievre tried to get the same information through a parliamentary procedure known as an Order Paper Question but, again, the data Poilievre was seeking was blacked out.
Wall, the Saskatchewan premier, said in December that Trudeau’s carbon tax could cost the average Canadian family as much as $1,250 a year in higher prices for everything from groceries to gasoline.
He, too, has asked the federal government to release its calculations and estimates of the costs of a federal carbon tax.
Infographic: Where Canada sits in the global spectrum of energy development
By Darrell Stonehouse
Feb. 2, 2017, 2:38 p.m.
In Natural Resources Canada’s latest Energy Fact Book, the government department ranks Canada against other nations in the world in a number of energy industries.
This includes crude oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, renewables and electricity—based on proved reserve or capacity, production and exports in 2015.
Here’s how Canada stacks up.
Trump’s Keystone move creates uncertainty for steel producer
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 6:30PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 6:53PM EST
Donald Trump’s plan to approve the Keystone XL pipeline may come at a steep cost to Saskatchewan, as the U.S. President’s “Buy American” order threatens jobs at Western Canada’s largest steel factory, located in Regina.
Premier Brad Wall welcomed Mr. Trump’s move to revive the contentious pipeline project as beneficial to Canada, but there are fears the new administration may force TransCanada Corp. – and indeed other pipeline companies – to buy American-made pipe for expansion projects.
Russian-owned Evraz PLC owns the 60-year-old steel mill in Regina.
The factory employs more than 1,000 people and is a major supplier of large-diameter steel pipe to TransCanada and Enbridge Inc., which is awaiting a state permit to commence a rebuild of Line 3, its main crude-export line to the U.S. Midwest.
Mr. Trump’s executive orders on Tuesday invited TransCanada to reapply for a presidential permit for Keystone XL and instructed the State Department – which handles such applications – to expedite a decision. He also indicated the administration’s intention to approve the Dakota Access pipeline, despite fierce opposition from local indigenous communities and their supporters, who argue their treaty rights are being violated.
Both projects face some hurdles before construction can begin, including TransCanada’s need for a permit in Nebraska for the Keystone XL project. Opponents have threatened to launch lawsuits to block the pipelines, but Washington lawyer James Rubin said Mr. Trump has wide latitude in issuing executive orders and expediting decisions, as long as it all follows a reasonable process.
The revival of the Keystone XL project was greeted warmly by federal and provincial leaders in Canada, who see it as a shot in the arm for an industry that is struggling with low prices and fears that a shortage of pipeline capacity is looming unless new projects are built.
But for the pipeline industry’s Canadian suppliers, Mr. Trump’s announcement was a mixed blessing, creating uncertainty about their ability to compete for business in the U.S. market.
In another executive order, the President instructed his Commerce Department to “develop a plan under which all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States … use materials and equipments produced in the United States, to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law.”
A spokesman for Evraz said the company welcomed the presidential order on Keystone XL – which was rejected by then-president Barack Obama 15 months ago – but would not say whether the Buy American order would force it to move work to U.S. mills it owns.
“We have large-diameter pipe facilities both in Canada and in the U.S.,” Christian Messmacher said in an e-mail. He added: “I’m afraid I cannot comment” on the impact of Mr. Trump’s executive order.
Two years ago, the company announced a $200-million investment in the Regina plant to expand its capacity to produce the large-diameter pipe. In its 2015-16 budget, Mr. Wall’s government provided a tax rebate aimed specifically at boosting Ervaz’s investment in added export capacity.
Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan’s Economy Minister, said he met with officials in Congress as well as representatives of the Trump administration in Washington last week and left feeling assured that Canada is not likely to be affected by Buy American sentiment south of the border.
He said Saskatchewan steel makers such as Evraz have production facilities on both sides of the border and are poised to benefit from new pipeline construction such as the Keystone XL project.
“I think the concerns are not particularly directed at Canada. I think the concerns are directed to the south, toward Mexico, and with regard to countries outside North America – China particularly,” he said. “I think that there’s an understanding of the importance of the trade relationship between Canada and the United States and just how integrated these supply chains are.”
However, trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said the Trump administration would not be swayed by rules under the North American free-trade agreement or the World Trade Organization that would guarantee Canadian producers do not face discriminatory treatment.
“This isn’t about the niceties of trade law or the NAFTA or the WTO agreement,” Mr. Herman said. “It’s how a New York property developer operates. Canada wants Keystone, TransCanada wants Keystone, and the U.S. alone has the power to give it – on Trump’s terms and conditions.”
The petroleum and mining sectors should put their heads together for a good cause: their future
Published on January 15, 2017
President & CEO at JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group
It’s interesting to watch two sectors that should be joined at the hip in defense of their joint futures and wonder why they’re not; at least not in any publicly or politically discernible way.
The beauty of my day job is this: I am privileged to be involved with two teams that provide essential information insights to Canada’s two most important resource sectors: energy and mining. The men and women associated with venerable business brands such as Oilweek, The Daily Oil Bulletin, The Northern Miner and Canadian Mining Journal provide context, analysis and intelligence insights to the diverse stakeholders that comprise the “energy” and “mining” sectors.
Collectively, the brands represent more than three centuries of sectoral service and have been binding tools through the diverse and complex (and often brutal) cycles through which these industries pass. The teams also provide research and analysis services, including insights into external forces that impact the sectors; thus the brands also afford a perspective on the things which have put energy and mining under fire.
Both sectors are under tremendous social and political assault, the roots of which have common origins in the increasingly binary ways many Canadians are thinking about the economy and the environment. Indeed, much of it has to do with a Canadian society more than ever disconnected from the realities of how Canada’s resource riches contribute to our standard of living.
Forget distinctions between hard rocks and soft rocks: let’s contemplate how two sectors working more collaboratively can tell Canadians more compelling and cogent stories. In the process, we help folks understand how far advanced these sectors are in terms of their environmental and social records; the things for which, paradoxically, they are most pilloried.
Take aboriginal action for example. A straw poll of ordinary Canadians would almost certainly produce the following predictable result: resource industries need to do way better by way of aboriginal communities. That’s because everyone reads the same headlines. Who gets the coverage? Communities negotiating through the mainstream media, of course. Those same communities have also effectively left footed politicians from all levels of government.
But both oil and gas and mining companies can point to pretty decent records of working with aboriginal communities and companies. But aside from occasional glossy advertising campaigns pointing this out (which are often too rose-colored to be credible) few people outside the sectors themselves realize this.
Instead, contrary mythologies are propagated and the norm becomes sectors too distant and uncaring to be bothered by the perceived sovereign, economic and environmental travails of aboriginal communities.
But consider the following quote from Fort McMurray #468 First Nation (FMFN) over the recent controversy sparked by Jane Fonda’s visit to Canada’s oilsands (although visit stretches the word’s semantically elasticity.) FMFN was trying to distance itself from the presence of a former councillor who appeared in photo with Fonda. After pointing out it had no part in the planning of the actor’s visit, FMFN had this to say:
“FMFN #468 does support responsible development of the oil sands, and is confident that our industry partners have the same vision. We have strong partnerships with many companies, and we are grateful for these partners for the significant role they have played in our efforts since 2011 to establish FMFN as a strong, economically self-sufficient First Nation.”
There are myriad sentiments like this from aboriginal communities across Canada. But they’re not headline fodder, nor are they simple for stretched journalists to contextualize. Most mainstream media outlets are so busy these days chasing their own social media tails that consequential journalism has fallen by the wayside.
And, for ordinary citizens in any case, labels like “inconvenient truths” are more emotively satisfying than things like “convenient realities”.
In the context of aboriginal communities described above, the oilsands sector is a good example, because such communities benefit from both mining and oil and gas activities and provide a suitable backdrop against which to consider better and more balanced storytelling that demonstrates what is real and what is possible.
But here’s a reality: both sectors are in states of profound flux and there’s growing realization that one transformative force is the new energy era into which we have embarked.
Given what we know will be required to support next-generation renewable energy infrastructure, much of it to be sourced from various mined resources (think lithium and other rare earth elements), it seems at least some stars are aligning for the sectors to begin chatting more strategically.
Many oil and gas companies are already making their own bold moves into alternative energy systems investments.
Perhaps the dawning of a new energy era will provide sufficient catalysts for the sectors to contemplate how they’re stronger together.
Other countries see Canada as an energy leader—so should you
By Bill Whitelaw
Jan. 9, 2017, 1:41 p.m.
Canadians pondering our energy future might do well to take into account how others see us.
It would give them comfort to know the sector is actually in pretty good hands—at least in the opinion of folks able to view things from a rational perspective.
As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, it’s important to remember that our energy sector’s roots actually predate Confederation.
For a relatively young country, we have an old (and honourable) energy history. But because we live with it daily, we’re perhaps not as acutely aware of how important that energy history is when rooted in a global context and viewed from the vantage points of other jurisdictions that see Canada as an international role model.
Simply put, for many folks outside of Canada, the things we as Canadians take for granted in terms of energy development are looked upon with something that borders on envy.
Canadians would do well as energy citizens to see—as others do—our energy record as something to be viewed with pride rather than disdain or even despair.
Those who believe mainstream media coverage might be tempted to believe that the Canadian energy record blots an otherwise sterling international reputation.
That’s because a small group of activist voices seem to exert a command-and-control dynamic over Canada’s news editors who (generally) are more caught up chasing the social media mewlings of activists rather than engaging in solid, contextual and literate energy journalism.
Talk to the men and women in other countries who are in charge of domestic energy development and an entirely different view of Canada’s competencies emerges.
Canada’s energy ethos
What’s the common linkage between Canada’s diverse capabilities? A unique characteristic perhaps best described as an energy ethos—ethos being the operative word.
Put simply, it’s the ethical approach Canadians take to energy development: one that keeps in balance environmental dynamics and economic realities.
On a recent energy tour of central European countries—Poland, Hungary and Croatia—discussions with a diverse range of energy stakeholders provided interesting perspectives on what Canada has to offer in terms of technical, safety, regulatory, educational and yes, even political experience and practice.
The tour was organized by Ottawa’s trade commissioner to showcase and heighten opportunities in both Canadian investment and trade.
Canada is an attractive trading partner and supplier of expertise, perspective and social conscience because of where we have evolved to in our domestic energy dynamic.
Energy “freedoms” are a major difference between our approach and the approach of others. Take our system’s transparency as but one example.
Most Canadians are largely ignorant of the transparency foundations on which our energy systems are built—foundations that contribute immeasurably to our quality of life.
Want to know what a energy company paid to lease Crown land? No problem. Interested in knowing who was issued a well licence yesterday? Again, no problem. Curious about a particular company’s hydrocarbon production volumes? Easy, peasy.
It’s all there in the public domain—and it makes for an incredibly vibrant and competitive industry. Such data availability to anyone with an interest is core to how many of our systems function, not for oil and gas companies or power generators in particular but for Canadian society as a whole.
That’s one dimension the Poles, Hungarians and Croatians deeply admire.
Why? Because the system works for the citizens who actually own the molecules.
And that system—actually a system of systems, provincially and federally—has been evolving and improving over decades. Data transparency actually creates robust, competitive and accountable markets.
Balancing energy and the environment
The ways and means we’re balancing energy development and environmental sustainability are also of great interest, as are the methods for consultation on major energy issues.
Canadians—again, those who only consume mainstream media—might be confused by this given all the white noise around perceived failures to consult around major pipeline projects. But citizens of central Europe would give their eyeteeth to be privileged to avail themselves of our processes.
The other area drawing attention is the way in which Canada is advancing its energy-systems mix; the balanced approach that recognizes no single energy system can be wholly independent in and of itself.
Whether this is driven by regulation or the market, Canada’s approach is eyed as a form of guidance as our country navigates the best way to use its vast and varied resource wealth.
One of the main drivers of central European interest in Canadian energy turns on a dynamic unknown to Canadians: being dependent on a less-than-dependable source for the bulk of domestic energy demand.
In this case, the 12 countries that form central Europe want to be less reliant on Russian natural gas from both pricing and security of supply perspectives. They’re making a variety of moves, independently and through the European Union, to become more energy self-sufficient as well as wean themselves off coal over the long-term.
Canada’s energy shift is about new market opportunities for our hydrocarbons and the products and services that drive their development across a broad supply chain spectrum.
The race with no finish line
This is not to suggest, of course, that Canada should rest on its laurels simply because others admire our systems and approaches. In fact, it’s a pointed reminder that being an energy leader comes with the burden of running a race that has no finish line.
But it is nice to know we’re well ahead of a large part of the pack.
It’s too bad more Canadians can’t see what’s in front of them.
The video interview is below.