The lack of adequate infrastructure is a significant obstacle to mining development in Canada. Greater investments in necessary infrastructure are needed to help relieve the current financial burden of construction costs placed on mining companies, to unlock the vast potential of Canadian communities, and to access the critical minerals that will help us reach our climate goals.
The mining industry directly employs over 377, 000 workers across the country in mineral extraction, smelting, fabrication and manufacturing, and indirectly employs an additional 315,000 people. Proportionally, the mining industry is also the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples, providing over 16,500 jobs. In 2020, the minerals sector directly and indirectly contributed $107 billion, or roughly 5%, to Canada’s total nominal GDP.
Our modern lives depend on mining. From the critical minerals and energy needed to build and propel clean transportation, to the materials without which smartphones, computers and digital connectivity would not exist, to the inputs for critical medical equipment needed to combat COVID-19, such as rapid test kits, personal protective equipment and antimicrobial surfaces, the world needs responsible mining.
Large infrastructure projects have the potential to enrich the regional, provincial and federal economies and to ignite an economy in remote areas where opportunities were previously non-existent. They improve accessibility and encourage diversification of the economy; however, the cost to establish the required infrastructure is frequently too prohibitive for private-sector investment alone. Major mining projects often require significant investment in new infrastructure, which is vital to ensure that mining companies have the ability to find, extract and remove ores at a competitive cost.
The future of Canada’s mining industry lies increasingly in remote and northern regions, but the infrastructure deficit in this part of the country challenges project economics. The Mining Association of Canada and mineral industry partners undertook extensive research on how remote and northern mining costs compare to those in the south. That research indicates it costs 2-2.5 times more to build the same precious or base metal mine in the North (off-grid), is 60% more expensive to operate, and increases harmful environmental impacts when compared with the same mine in a centrally located region. Most importantly, 70% of this cost differential derives from the infrastructure deficit. These heightened costs also curtail attractiveness for exploration investment that is critical to filling the pipeline with the future Canadian mining operations on which continued economic, social and sovereignty benefits are contingent.
In addition to greater investment in enabling infrastructure for key mining projects across the nation, better coordination of that spending is needed to make these investments effective. Infrastructure planning should be coordinated between all levels of government, industry, and local communities as well as other economic development projects to ensure synergies and the opportunity to multiply benefits amongst all groups.
That the Government of Canada:
1. Promote mining sector growth and stimulate regional economic development by immediately establishing enhanced funding partnerships and innovative funding models to invest in needed transportation, energy, housing, social, and information infrastructure (including the Geological Survey of Canada); and,
2. Work with provincial/territorial government, private industry, and Indigenous communities to better coordinate infrastructure spending by aligning infrastructure planning with community and industry needs as well as other economic development projects.
The Natural Resources and Environment Committee supports this resolution., on July 5, 2022
Submitted By: Charla Robinson, Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce
Supporting Organizations: Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce, Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, and Timmins Chamber of Commerce