B.C.’s overall attractiveness for mining investment has fallen, says the Fraser Institute’s recent survey of global mining companies.
The province dropped from 18th to 27th place in this year’s rankings of 104 jurisdictions across the world, which were ranked by a group of mining executives according to their geologic attractiveness for minerals and metals and their policy attractiveness.
According to the report, B.C. fell because of uncertainty surrounding First Nations land claims and a longer permitting process.
“Time is money, and if permit approval times are unnecessarily long or lack transparency, confidence plummets, overall costs increase and investors will take their money elsewhere,” said Kenneth Green, Fraser Institute senior director of energy and natural resources, in a media release.
The study compared the mining permitting process in Canada with other jurisdictions around the world and found that while Canadian provinces and territories fared well internationally, B.C. is lagging behind.
According to 60 per cent of survey respondents, permit approval wait times in British Columbia lengthened over the previous 10 years, compared to 38 per cent in Quebec.
The study also concluded B.C. offered less transparency and certainty throughout the permitting process than most of the jurisdictions included in the survey.
B.C.’s Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said the survey does not reflect the reality of mining in the province.
“It’s not an objective assessment of anything,” said Bennett. “It is a poll of perception.”
Bennett argued the survey does not take into account the seven new mines that have been permitted in B.C. since 2011 or the expansions of nine major mines that have also been approved.
The top jurisdiction in the world for investment is Saskatchewan, which moved up to first from second place in 2015. Manitoba moved up to second place this year after ranking 19th the previous year.
Bennett argued that neither of those jurisdictions have expanded as quickly as B.C.’s mining industry.
“I wish the Fraser Institute would do an objective analysis of what actually happens on the ground and not just what somebody’s perception is in Australia or somewhere else in the world but they will do what they will do,” said Bennett.
“I think we have to acknowledge that the perception out there among executives – many of whom do not operate in B.C. – is still lagging and we need to do more work to convince people that this is a great place to invest,” he added.
Other leading jurisdictions include Western Australia, which dropped to third, after losing its first place spot to Saskatchewan. Rounding out the top 10 are Nevada, Finland, Quebec, Arizona, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and Queensland.
The 10 least attractive jurisdictions for investment are Venezuela, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Philippines, Indonesia, Chubut, South Sudan, Mendoza, and Ecuador.