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Mining industry losing confidence in Ontario's exploration permit system

Fraser report say wait times, lack of transparency bothers industry executives, investors
Rivard channel sampling

Ontario has some work to do to regain the confidence of mining executives and investors when it comes to the province’s exploration permitting regime.

A Fraser Institute survey of industry executives last year claims investors are losing confidence in the mineral exploration permit process in many Canadian provinces, with applications taking longer to be approved and a lack of transparency, according to a new study released July 24 by the Calgary-based policy think-tank.

“An increasingly opaque and confusing application process for companies to explore for mineral deposits deters investment and ultimately hinders Canada’s ability to realize its considerable resource potential,” said Kenneth Green, co-author of Permit Times for Mining Exploration in 2017.

Based on the Fraser Institute’s Mining Survey results, the study finds that in many Canadian jurisdictions, the exploration permit process has grown longer over the past 10 years and less transparent.

In 2017, 83 per cent of respondents in Ontario said permit times had lengthened over the last decade compared to 73 per cent in British Columbia and 50 per cent in Quebec.

On average, more respondents in the Canadian jurisdictions indicated that permit times were lengthening in that 10-year span compared to respondents in Australia and Scandinavia.

Fifty per cent of respondents indicated a lack of transparency in Ontario deters investment, followed by 48 per cent of respondents in B.C. and 40 per cent in Quebec.

Comparatively, only 9 per cent of respondents in Sweden and Western Australia saw the level of transparency as a deterrent to investment.

“Attracting scarce investment dollars requires sound, clear policies and predictable timelines, and investors have said loud and clear that Canada is lagging on this front,” said Ashley Stedman, the study’s co-author and a senior policy analyst with the institute.

“Ultimately, uncompetitive mining policies send valuable investment dollars—and the jobs and prosperity they create—elsewhere,” Green said.

The Fraser Institute has been surveying mining company executives on mining policies in jurisdictions around the world since 1997.