Mining exploration incentives hinted at by Northern Development minister

Ontario's minister of Northern Development and Mines is hinting at exploration incentives to be unveiled in the next few weeks.

Mines minister Michael Gravelle promises details by the end of the year

The province has committed to spending $1 billion to help develop the massive mineral deposit in northern Ontario. But there was no mention of Ring of Fire in the recent federal budget. (Noront Resources)

Ontario's minister of Northern Development and Mines is hinting at exploration incentives to be unveiled in the next few weeks.

Michael Gravelle made the comment while responding to a mining report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce that called on the government to do more to encourage mining development in the province.

"I can say, I think, without getting myself in too much trouble, that our strategy will certainly be speaking to a number of the issues related to the need to drive exploration in the province of Ontario."

Gravelle wouldn't say what those changes might be, only promising they will be unveiled over the next few weeks.

"There's no question the mining sector is going through a challenging time," he told CBC News. "We went out there to consult with people about how could our renewed, revitalized mineral development strategy bring forward some recommendations to help stimulate the sector. Hopefully, when we do release this, which will be before the end of this year, you will see some of the fruits of that labour and those consultations coming to bear."

'The industry is having problems'

Porcupine Prospectors and Developers Association president Bill MacRae says the effect on the industry will depend on what the government's incentives are.

"If they're significant, then it's a step forward," he said. "We certainly, as an industry, have let them know loud and clear that the industry is having problems and Ontario is tending to fall behind in a jurisdiction that's seen as favourable for exploration."

Provincial Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle is working on a revised mineral development strategy. (Jody Porter/CBC)

MacRae said he'd like to see a rebate on exploration funds and enhanced flow-through shares — and he wants the provincial government to take the lead with First Nations consultations.

He said junior companies "just don't have the resources to spend the time to go through the plans and permits processes and do the consultation and accommodation that is required for getting signoff on permits for First Nations."

Junior companies won't work in Ontario if it's too difficult, and several have said they'll leave, he said, without citing specific companies.

The chair of the board of directors for the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce says she's looking for a plan that keep things stable through recent struggles but also as the sector grows.

"We as a community have to notice that there are opportunities that we have to work for and not just wait as well," Karen Hourtovenko said.