Ontario pledges to grow mining exploration industry over next 10 years

On the heels of a scathing report by the province's auditor general in recent weeks, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines says it's making some changes.
The provincial government has released a plan to grow the exploration industry over the next decade. The new strategy aims to provide financial support to prospectors and juniors during cyclical downturns. (istock)

On the heels of a scathing report by the province's auditor general in recent weeks, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines says it's making some changes.

The province has released a renewed mineral development strategy that aims to grow the exploration industry over the next decade — and has announced an investment of $5 million towards exploration work by junior mining companies.

The investment is needed, says the executive director of the Ontario Prospector's Association.

"The main thing with the exploration industry's needs is that we need to be able to raise money," Garry Clark said.
The Ontario Prospectors and Developers Association's Garry Clark says the province's investment is a good start. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

"The province can't force people or they can't regulate people to put money, risk money, into our business. That's one of the biggest things we need is risk money."

However the NDP's Northern Development and Mines critic, Michael Mantha, says $5 million isn't enough to help the exploration industry.

But Clark says it's a good start, and is confident this could bring investors back to Ontario.

"They go to other provinces because they can get a rebate on their exploration. Now they can get the same rebate here or more."

Bruce Jago of Laurentian University's Goodman School of Mines said the province's plan is good — in principle.

But he added the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has to deliver on its promises.
Bruce Jago, executive director of Goodman School of Mines in Sudbury, Ont., says the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has to deliver on it promises. (Goodman School of Mines)

"If they carry things forward the way they should, then things are going to work out okay. They'll restore confidence in the ministry."

In her report, Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk noted the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has not been effectively encouraging timely mining development in the province, even though Ontario has a significantly lower tax rate on mining than the national average.

Jago said it's likely that ministry officials are upset with Lysyk's report.

"But it put things in black and white. And sometimes when it's in black and white you'll get changes. So, we'll see. That's one way to keep their feet to the fire."

Jago said without continued investment in finding new deposits, the work's not going to get done.

"The deposits won't be found. And, all of a sudden, you'll have to slingshot that the prices of commodities will go zipping way up. And unfortunately, you'll be left without a pool of people that are knowledgeable to be able to get out there and find new deposits because they will have quit the industry. And it's already started."

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