Ontario unveils new mineral strategy

By Liz Gyekye
Published: Thursday, 17 December 2015

Ten point plan replaces 2006 version, aimed at giving TSX-V home turf a life.

The provincial government of Ontario in eastern Canada launched a new 10-year mineral development strategy in December to attract new investment and strengthen the region’s mining sector.

The strategy includes a 10-point action plan, along with four strategic priorities designed to keep the sector competitive and innovative, environmentally responsible and safe, efficiently regulated and positioned to ensure future prosperity.

Under the banner of innovation, the Ontario government is aiming to identify new markets for locally-sourced minerals and boost exports. It is also hoping to develop financial support for Ontario-based junior exploration companies and prospectors, which are struggling with the cyclical downturn in the sector.

The previous mineral development strategy was released in 2006, and the government pledged to renew the plan for the growth of Northern Ontario. The government received input about the strategy from prospectors, junior exploration companies, mining firms, environmental organisations and aboriginal communities, before releasing the new plan.

A total of 27% of the value of mineral production in Ontario is from industrial minerals, including gypsum, salt and barite (barytes), which are mined mostly in the south of the province.

Junior mining businesses have welcomed the policy. Greg Bowes, CEO of Northern Graphite Corp, which is developing the Bissett Creek graphite project in Ontario, told IM: "It is very gratifying that the minister of northern development and mines continues to recognise the contribution mining makes to our economy and is taking concrete steps to support it."

"Unfortunately, we deal with many government agencies who unnecessarily increase the cost of creating jobs for our citizens and tax revenues for our governments and, in fact, represent a barrier to doing so. Opportunities to create employment and tax revenues are a very scarce resource worldwide," he added.

According to the provincial government, Ontario’s mining supply and services sector employs more than 40,000 people and has an estimated direct economic impact of Canadian dollar (C$)6.6bn ($4.81bn*). 

Northern Development and Mines Minister, Michael Gravelle, said the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), which is based in Ontario, is the "exploration and mining capital of the world". There are 1,500 exploration companies listed on the TSX and the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V) – more than half the public mining companies in the world, the government said. In 2014, more than 60% of all new mining equity capital raised globally took place on Toronto’s exchanges. The industry has taken a severe knock from the collapse of investor confidence in mining, thanks partly to the fall in commodity prices worldwide. However, capital investment in Ontario’s mining industry still reached C$1.3bn in 2014.

*Conversion made December 2015