Junior miners in Quebec get a push with new $250 development fund

Quebec’s public pension fund manager, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, announced Thursday it has created a $250-million mining development fund aimed to help capital-starved junior mining exploration companies.

The news comes barely a week after a report by Ernst & Young alerted that capital allocation and access to investments have become the top business risks for mining and metals companies globally.

The new fund, named Sodémex Développement, plans to invest between $5 million to $20 million in small Quebec resource firms, mainly in mining and mineral development, the firm said in a statement.

The trust’s goal is to provide the pension fund manager with “a key entry point in projects in the development stage.”

The French-Canadian province, once the darling of miners, has been lately losing its appeal. The province that ranked first worldwide mining destination from 2007 to 2010, barely reached the 11th place out of 96 jurisdictions this year in Fraser Institute’s annual ranking.

“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,” said Kenneth Green, Fraser Institute senior director of energy and natural resources and director of the survey.

The province recently tabled a new mining legislation that will require resource firms to produce studies on the feasibility of processing ore in the province before proceeding with a new project.

The requirement is part of the new Mining Act, known as Bill 43, through which the Parti Québécois minority government is seeking to maximize the economic spin-offs from major new mining projects.