Addressing Canada’s declining mining competitiveness

by Keith Powell
Large mining truck.

A national alliance of mineral exploration and mining associations are urging Mines Ministers to take action to ensure Canada remains a globally competitive jurisdiction and can continue to attract mineral investment. — Photo courtesy Hitachi Heavy Equipment/Mine Haul Trucks

A national alliance of mineral exploration and mining associations are urging Mines Ministers, having convened for their 76th annual conference in Cranbrook, to take action to ensure Canada remains a globally competitive jurisdiction and can continue to attract mineral investment.

A brief submitted by the Canadian Mineral Industry Federation (CMIF) proposes a series of recommendations organized under the six strategic directions identified in the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP) published earlier this year. The plan, developed by Natural Resources Canada with the support of most provincial and territorial governments, identifies specific areas where collaboration and action by federal, provincial and territorial governments can boost Canada's ability to attract new mineral investment.  While Canada has long benefited from a prosperous minerals and metals industry, the country is not immune to global competitive forces and cannot take the benefits and opportunities that exploration and mining presents to Canadians for granted. This year, CMIF proposes the following recommendations in support of the CMMP's ambitious strategic directions:

1. Economic Development, Regulatory Certainty and Investment Competitiveness

Acknowledging there is fierce global competition for finite exploration and mine development investment dollars, that Canada's economy is dependent on foreign direct investment, and that tax competitiveness and regulatory certainty are critical determinants of Canada's investment attractiveness, it is essential that a number of critical measures be considered. These include the effective and efficient regulation of the mining industry, including sound implementation of the new Federal Impact Assessment Act, appropriate access to prospective lands, and continued and expanded investments in remote and northern infrastructure. Additionally, it is important that a strategic review of Canada's tax regime be conducted with the aim of augmenting Canada's investment attractiveness.

2. Advancing the Participation of Indigenous Peoples in the Minerals Sector

The Canadian mineral industry is a leader in Indigenous engagement and partnerships. Governments can support enhanced participation of, and partnerships with, Indigenous communities in the sector through foundational social investments in areas such as health, education and housing, and by targeting funding for skills training and entrepreneurship to assist Indigenous Peoples in securing employment and business development opportunities generated by the industry. Governments should also focus on adequately discharging its duty to consult.

3. Environment

The Canadian mineral exploration and mining industry is well-positioned to play a pivotal role in the low-carbon economy as the provider of the raw materials necessary for innovation in many other sectors, including clean tech, manufacturing, transportation, high-tech, and aerospace and defence. Addressing climate change, while preventing carbon leakage, is critical to ensuring Canada's "best-in-class" mineral industry becomes a supplier of choice to meet global demand for raw materials in the most sustainable and environmentally responsible way possible. Respecting the country's biodiversity also continues to be a priority for the sector and ensuring appropriate approaches to conserving species at risk will play a pivotal role in Canada's exploration and mining future.

4. Science, Technology and Innovation

Geoscience and innovation continue to be focal points for the mineral exploration and mining sector. The federal government should expand rigorous geological studies across Canada, particularly for mapping of remote regions in greater detail. Innovation, in everything from autonomous vehicles to mine electrification, is increasingly important to the sector. By investing in new exploration techniques and technologies, and providing financial support to catalyze private sector innovation investments, real progress can be made in energy efficiency, environmental protection and business productivity.

5. Communities

Investments in human resources and skills training are essential for the sector given the mineral industry expects to hire close to 100,000 workers over the next 10 years. Increasing collaboration between governments, industry and educational institutions to ensure new entrants to the mineral industry have the required skills is particularly important. It is also essential that governments work together to enhance support for initiatives to address barriers to diversity and inclusion in the mineral exploration and mining sector.

6. Global Leadership

Supporting the Canadian mineral industry, including the continued expansion of market access through free trade and investment agreements, is critical to its future success. Canada is a global leader in responsible business conduct, and its leading practices should be promoted by governments to advance Canada's development goals and expand the benefits that exploration and mining activity brings to communities around the globe. The federal government should continue to work with the private sector, including Canadian exploration and mining companies operating abroad, to leverage Canadian development activities and realize better outcomes for communities.
In order to attract greater investment and enhance the competitiveness of the mineral sector, Canada's Mines Ministers must be bold. CMIF's proposed recommendations, aligned with the CMMP, provide needed support to Canada's mineral industry to ensure its ongoing competitiveness. With the strong building blocks Canada already has in place, and with mineral exploration and mining playing a critical role in the low-carbon future, the need to support one of the country's most significant sectors is more important now than ever before. 


"Without the vital support of governments to achieve the recommendations by CMIF, Canada's exploration and mining industry—once envied the world over for its mineral wealth and abundance of exploration and extraction expertise—will continue slipping from its position of dominance. As foreign competition soars, we are left chasing countries that once viewed us as the global benchmark. The recommendations, in partnership with the CMMP, will ensure Canada's continued success as a leader in exploration and development, providing major social and economic benefits for generations to come," says PDAC President Felix Lee.

"We are encouraged by the commitments in the new Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP).  Our recommendations, through CMIF, seek to harness the momentum of the CMMP to address Canada's declining mining competitiveness and restore Canada's position as the dominant mining nation. The time has come for bold action and we call on federal, provincial and territorial leaders to act on these recommendations," said Ben Chalmers, Senior Vice President of The Mining Association of Canada.

About the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

PDAC is the leading voice of the mineral exploration and development community. With over 7,500 members around the world, PDAC's work centres on supporting a competitive, responsible mineral sector. PDAC is known worldwide for its annual PDAC Convention—the premier international event for the industry—that has attracted over 25,000 people from 135 countries in recent years and will next be held March 1-4, 2020 in Toronto. Please visit

About the Mining Association of Canada (MAC)

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry.  Its members account for most of Canada's production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, and mined oil sands, and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication. Please visit

About the Canadian Mineral Industry Federation (CMIF)

The Canadian Mineral Industry Federation (CMIF) comprises more than 20 national, provincial and territorial associations that represent various components of the Canadian mineral and mining industry. 

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