Commentary: Canadian and Australian federal governments lay out plans for mining

Drilling at Dunnedin Ventures' Kahuna project in Nunavut this summer. Credit: Dunnedin VenturesCamp at Dunnedin Ventures' Kahuna diamond project in Nunavut in mid-2018. Credit: Dunnedin Ventures

In August 2017, Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for mining called for a Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP) to support industry competitiveness, solidify Canada’s position as a global mining leader, and to lay the foundation for lasting success at home and abroad.

The CMMP was unveiled at the annual convention of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in early March 2019.

Canada was beaten to the punch by Australia, which introduced its National Resources Statement in mid-February of this year.

Other that the fact that the Australian document includes oil and gas as well as mining, the two reports could have been written by the same committee. At just over 50 pages, they are similar in length with Canada offering extensive text and infographics, and Australia strong on colourful pictures of the mining industrye.

Indeed, the mining industries of Canada and Australia share many similarities. They are important drivers of the economy, provide jobs and tax revenues, produce similar commodities, employ advanced technologies, and are substantial exporters of raw materials as well as equipment, services and technology used in mining.

They also share the fact that they are located in federations where provinces or states control resource extraction.

Federal governments in both countries try to set mineral policies, but the subsidiary jurisdictions go their own ways, leading to a dilution of national effort.

For example, a disclaimer in the Canadian plan warns: “As part of this Plan, individual jurisdictions will undertake efforts that best suit their priorities, unique situations and needs.”

So much for a national plan for the future of an industry as economically important and as full of promise for the future.

Given the similarities of mining in the two countries, it is not surprising that both plans embrace the same values: economic development and competitiveness; advancing the participation of indigenous people; the environment; science, technology and innovation; communities; and desire for global leadership.

Both countries’ reports claim a “leadership position in the global resources sector.” Both describe the many strengths of their industry at present and state that global competitiveness is such that they cannot stand still.

Judged on an international scale, Canada and Australia are indeed leaders in almost any measure of the mining industry. Their challenge is to stay that way and use their advantages to prosper even more.

In a call for collaboration, the Australian document states: “A fragmented approach to our strongest sector could undermine its future competitiveness and see competitors with more cohesive approaches erode our natural competitive advantages.”

Australia’s Natural Resources Statement advances general ideas for co-operation in most areas affecting the mining industry, while Canada’s CMMP offers many fairly concrete outcomes with suggested timelines.

A few of the Canadian proposals, which, if implemented, would advance the industry and benefit all Canadians include:

By 2020: A pan-Canadian Mining Value from Waste research program is established to reduce the footprint of mine wastes and improve environmental performance.

By 2020: A joint government-industry strategy to support the success of Canadian mining supply and services is in place.

By 2021: Explore opportunities for increased Indigenous procurement and business activity.

By 2022: A new, pan-Canadian, collaborative public geoscience strategy for mineral exploration.

By 2022: Incentives to support a supercluster-type model for tackling large innovation challenges.

By 2030: Canada’s mining workforce is more diverse and includes 30% women.

Both Canada and Australia are racing to attract investment, develop new resources and markets and share the benefits of mining success with their citizens. Let’s see who wins the race.

Jon Baird

Based in Goodwood, Ont., Jon Baird is principal of SEMP Consulting, which specializes in strategic export market planning. For more information, contact jon.baird@sempconsulting.ca.

 

 

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1 Comment on "Commentary: Canadian and Australian federal governments lay out plans for mining"

  1. Kevin Filo | May 2, 2019 at 5:19 pm | Reply

    We used to be a global mining leader! Hmm let’s see falconbrige, noranda, inco, goldcorp etc are gone. Foreign nationals are the Canadian mining industry. Someone should tell the feds the horse left the barn!

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