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Explorers frustrated with waiting times for permits in B.C., the Territories

Greenhills is one of the five steelmaking coal operations Teck Resources has in the Elk Valley, British Columbia. (Image courtesy of Teck Resources.)

Canada’s British Columbia and the Territories are the country’s mining districts where it takes the longest to obtain exploration permits, a new report released Tuesday shows.

According to a survey of mining executives by policy think-tank the Fraser Institute, while Canadian provinces and territories fared well compared to international competitors in terms of issuing permits in a timely manner, some provinces certainly have room for improvement.

A case in point is British Columbia, the study shows, where 60% of survey respondents said wait times have lengthened over the past decade, compared to just 38% in Quebec.

In contrast, not a single respondent in Saskatchewan, the world’s new top mining investments destination according to a related study, said permit wait times were longer than 10 years ago.

Saskatchewan also ranked first in another category — approval within six months or less — with 91% of respondents saying yes, compared to 88% in Quebec, 80% in Ontario and only 73% in B.C.

On the level of transparency in the approvals process, jurisdictions in the US, Australia and Scandinavia performed better than Canada, the report shows.

“What we quite often hear from miners is that the process not only takes longer, but that it is also less transparent and less certain than it was in the past,” Taylor Jackson, senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute and co-author of the study told

One province where the researchers saw clear improvements this year was Ontario, Canada’s second largest province, which had been singled out in 2015 as the region where it took the longest to obtain exploration permits.

A higher percentage of respondents indicated that Ontario granted them the necessary permits in six months or less, Jackson said. Respondents were also more confident that they would receive their licences, and transparency was less of an issue this year, he noted.