February 23, 2012
TORONTO–New Brunswick is the world’s most attractive jurisdiction for
mineral exploration and development in the view of the international mining industry, according to the Survey of Mining Companies: 2011/2012, released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank.
“New Brunswick shot to the top of the rankings as miners lauded the province for its fair, transparent, and efficient legal system and consistency in the enforcement and interpretation of existing environmental regulations,” said Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute vice-president of international policy research and coordinator of the survey.
“Combine that with a competitive taxation regime and minimal uncertainty
around disputed land claims and New Brunswick has emerged as a superstar in the view of the global mining community.”
New Brunswick vaulted to first place from 23rd last year, unseating Alberta
at the top of the global rankings as that province fell to third overall.
Quebec, which enjoyed a three-year reign at No. 1 from 2007 to 2010,
continued to lose support among mining executives as it fell to fifth place
from fourth in 2011.
“Quebec’s reputation floundered over the past two years due to uncertainty
around royalty increases and proposed changes to the provincial mining act. Miners prefer to do business in New Brunswick and Alberta, where mining policy is clear and the government resource-friendly,” McMahon said.
This year, Saskatchewan fell to sixth place from third, while Manitoba
dropped out of the top 10 altogether, plummeting to 20th position after
ranking ninth last year.
“Respondents blasted Manitoba for its mishandling of First Nations
consultations, which they say creates excessive delays in processing permits and licenses. That’s damaged the province’s reputation and is reflected in the rankings,” McMahon said.
The Fraser Institute’s Survey of Mining Companies: 2011/2012 is based on the opinions of mining executives representing 802 mineral exploration and development companies on the investment climate of 93 jurisdictions around the world (new additions this year include Missouri, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guyana, Laos, Mauritania, Morocco, Poland, Suriname, and eight provinces of Argentina). The companies participating in the survey reported exploration spending of $6.3 billion US in 2011 and $4.5 billion US in 2010.
The complete survey is available as a free PDF download at
Canadian jurisdictions claimed five of the top 10 spots this year. Joining
New Brunswick, Alberta, Quebec, and Saskatchewan in the top 10 is the Yukon Territory, which jumped to 10th from 15th last year, earning it the
distinction of being the first of Canada’s territories ever to achieve a
top-10 ranking in the survey.
The remaining provinces and territories fared well overall, with Ontario
placing 13th, Nova Scotia 15th, Newfoundland and Labrador 16th, Manitoba
20th, British Columbia 31st, Nunavut 36th, and the Northwest Territories
Worldwide, the top 10 jurisdictions are New Brunswick, Finland, Alberta,
Wyoming, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Sweden, Nevada, Ireland, and the Yukon.
Seven of the same jurisdictions ranked among the top 10 last year; newcomers include New Brunswick, Ireland (which jumped to ninth from 16th), and the Yukon, replacing Manitoba, Utah (fell to 21st from sixth), and Chile (dropped to 18th from eighth).
“Chile had been the only jurisdiction outside of North America to
consistently rank among the top 10 since the inception of the survey. It has
been replaced by Sweden and Finland, which have now been in the top 10 for the past three years,” McMahon.
“The presence of these Nordic countries among the world’s most preferred
mining jurisdictions shows that environmental stewardship and natural
resource development can go hand in hand.”
The bottom 10 scores went to Vietnam, Indonesia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, the
Philippines, India, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, and Zimbabwe, which were among the worst-ranked jurisdictions in the 2010/2011 survey, managed to climb out of the bottom 10 this year.
The report also notes that miners appear relatively pessimistic about future
commodity prices, reporting that they expect level or reduced prices for
silver, copper, diamonds, coal, zinc, nickel, potash, and platinum. The only
exception was gold, where a vast majority of respondents expected increased
Reduced optimism is also reflected in miners’ investment intentions. This
year, 68 per cent of respondents said they expected to increase their
exploration budgets in 2012, compared to 82 per cent who planned to hike
their exploration budgets in 2011.
“The key to establishing a positive investment climate is for governments to
have a clear, sensible vision for mining policy and to stick to it,” McMahon
“By upholding the rule of law, respecting negotiated contracts and property
rights, and eliminating risk with regard to tax increases and red tape,
nations can attract mining investment and reap the economic and social
benefits of new jobs and increased prosperity.”
Vice-President of International Policy Research, Fraser Institute
Tel: (416) 363-6575 ext. 226
Cell: (416) 727-7138