Canada must remain a free-trading [mining] nation – by Pierre Gratton (National Post – June 21, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Pierre Gratton is president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC).

In the Northwest Territories, $7-billion has been invested
in northern and aboriginal businesses. This has cut the number
of citizens in the territory requiring income support in half.
Some 26 Aboriginal companies are supplying expertise to N.W.T. diamond mines and are well positioned for future opportunities.
(Pierre Gratton – CEO Mining Association of Canada)

In recent weeks, Canadians have again debated the merits of foreign investment in our industries. I am astonished to read commentators claiming that, despite the fact that natural resources are increasingly central to Canada’s economic trajectory, multinational investment delivers a limited return to Canadians.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If Canada is to seize the opportunity for new mining investment that’s currently before it, we need to welcome investment from every quarter of the planet.

Canada’s mining sector is booming. Commodity prices are at or near record highs, driven in large part by impressive Chinese growth, and the industry is enjoying a period of buoyancy not seen since the years that followed the Second World War. The economic crisis of 2008, from which other sectors of the global economy have not yet recovered, has been left far behind.

Canada is now capturing the largest share of global exploration spending. Mines are expanding across the country, new projects are being developed. This is creating jobs, spurring modernization of industrial infrastructure, increasing government revenues and the economic prosperity of Canadians -and all at a critical time in our economic recovery. Were it not for Canada’s extractive sectors, we would not be outperforming most other countries and our governments’ fiscal challenges would be more severe.

Much of this growth and investment is being driven by multinational enterprises. Take a look at Canada’s diamond mines, a segment where Canada rose from zero production to world’s third-largest producer in a decade. Each of these multibillion dollar mines has been financed by multinational companies like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and De Beers. In the Northwest Territories, $7-billion has been invested in northern and aboriginal businesses. This has cut the number of citizens in the territory requiring income support in half. Some 26 Aboriginal companies are supplying expertise to N.W.T. diamond mines and are well positioned for future opportunities.

Beyond diamonds, Vale in spending billions in several Canadian provinces, including building a new state-of-the-art refinery in Newfoundland. This facility will refine nickel from the company’s Voisey’s Bay operation, a project considered a model for delivering enduring economic benefits to aboriginal communities and local businesses in remote areas. Rio Tinto Alcan has also announced spending of over $3-billion for the modernization of its aluminum smelters in Quebec and British Columbia. A multi-billion dollar renaissance is also being seen in the iron ore regions of Quebec and Labrador, in large part courtesy of foreign investment. These investments are creating thousands of the highest paid jobs in the Canadian economy.

Canada must continue to be a country of free traders. Canadian mining companies -not to mention financial services and petroleum corporations -operate across the globe, adding billions of dollars of benefit to the Canadian economy and helping keep our country on the leading edge of technology and investments. As we explore and develop abroad, we too want to be welcomed and treated fairly. It’s hard to demand this if we don’t do the same here. Foreign companies should enjoy the same opportunity to invest in Canada -invest in Canadians -that we have long benefitted from.

Comments are closed.