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By Rose Ragsdale
For Mining News 

Mines ministers meet in Whitehorse

Ministers draft action plan for Canadian minerals and metals industry at annual meeting; goal to strengthen competitiveness


Last updated 9/24/2006 at Noon

Mines ministers from across Canada gathered in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, in late August to craft a mining action plan aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the minerals and metals industry in ways that benefit all Canadians.

Representing Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments, the ministers met for the 63rd Annual Mines Ministers' Conference Aug. 28-29.

The ministers noted that challenges exist that potentially threaten the future viability of the minerals and metals industry in Canada, its international competitiveness and the future of well over 100 Canadian communities dependent on the sector. These challenges include foreign competition, increasingly stringent environmental regulations, skills shortages, and declining base-metal reserves in Canada.

The ministers said poor governance can hinder mineral development through a lack of coordination between key government departments and between governments, leading to significant delays in project approvals and uncertainty for investors.

Complicating this scenario is the perception by some that the minerals and metals industry is a "sunset" or old-economy industry lacking relevance to the current political agenda of a modern, high-tech economy, they observed.

To tackle some of these challenges, Canada's federal, provincial and local governments have decided to renew their relationship within a framework for action and to focus on opportunities to partner, collaborate and influence, the ministers said.

The plan

The action plan they adopted is designed to guide intergovernmental initiatives for Canada's mining industry long term. Priorities include advancing the country's cooperative geological mapping strategies and improving Canada's regulatory process.

The ministers focused on three themes: investment climate; innovation; and capacity and skills.

They agreed to add specific timelines for project approvals, while recognizing that environmental protection must continue to be pursued in a rigorous manner.

"Mining is a driving force in the Canadian economy," the ministers said in a joint statement. "It powers the financial sector and provides significant employment across the country in rural, remote, Aboriginal and northern communities, as well as in large urban centers. It also drives export growth, not only in the minerals and metals sector but also in the service, supply and equipment industries.

"For Canada to remain a competitive world leader in mining, we need to focus our priorities on innovation, capacity building, improving the taxation and fiscal climate for investment, and branding Canada in international markets," the ministers said. "To do this, we are working collaboratively, so that communities in every province and territory can prosper."

The ministers agreed that governments have an important role to play in setting the foundation for a competitive industry. The action plan also is designed to build on the work of the ministers' 2005 Conference, which focused on taking steps to advance viable mining communities.

The annual Mines Ministers' Conference allows industry representatives, stakeholders and governments to continue the dialogue about the minerals and metals industry in Canada. It helps ensure that there are opportunities for Canadians now and in the future.


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