Fraser Institute ranks Finland and Sweden top mining destinations

Despite their tough environmental protection laws, Finland and Sweden emerged as the top worldwide mining destinations of 2013 in the annual survey released Thursday by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank.

The document, which compiles the answers of international mining executives, shows that investment opportunities in the industry and environmental protection can, in fact, go hand in hand, said Kenneth Green, Fraser Institute senior director of energy and natural resources and director of the survey.

Canadian jurisdictions claimed three of the global top 10 spots this year, with New Brunswick falling dramatically to fourth from first, Alberta unchanged at third globally and number one in Canada, and the Yukon climbing to eighth from 10th.

“Alberta and New Brunswick offer competitive taxation regimes, sound legal systems, and relatively low uncertainty around land claims. That’s what miners are looking for,” said Green.

Quebec, once the darling of miners, appears to have lost its edge, as the province that ranked first worldwide from 2007 to 2010, barely reached the 11th place out of 96 jurisdictions this year. In 2012, Quebec was fifth.

“Falling from No. 1 to 11th in just three years tells us that the mining policies of the Quebec government, particularly uncertainty around changes to the provincial mining act and proposed royalty hikes, are a serious concern to the global mining community,” Green said.

Globally, the top mining destinations after Finland and Sweden are: Alberta, New Brunswick, Wyoming, Ireland, Nevada, Yukon, Utah, and Norway. Eight of the same jurisdictions ranked among the top 10 last year; newcomers include Utah (which jumped to ninth from 21st) and Norway (which climbed to 10th from 24th), replacing Saskatchewan and Quebec.

And the places you should avoid at all costs are Indonesia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Guatemala, Philippines, and Greece, concludes the survey.

Pessimism

The report also notes that mining companies are pessimistic about short-term commodity prices, expecting nearly level or reduced prices for silver, copper, diamonds, coal, zinc, nickel, potash, and platinum this year. Only gold seems to keep investors happy as they expect it to increase in value significantly in 2013, the survey found.

In the longer term, miners expect stable or moderate price increases.

In terms of exploration budget for 2013, only 46% of respondents said they plan to increase it, compared to 68% who said the same in 2012.

“In order to compete for investment on the global mining stage, jurisdictions need not only stellar resource potential but also a stable, certain, straightforward mining policy framework,” Green said.

“Reduce red tape, minimize risk with regard to policy changes and tax increases, respect negotiated contracts: that’s how you woo the global mining sector,” he added.

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