Government launches new strategy to promote Canadian mining abroad

The federal government recently announced the launch of its Canadian Extractive Sector Trade Strategy.

by Peter Caulfield

— thinkstock

The federal government recently announced the launch of its Canadian Extractive Sector Trade Strategy. The government says the strategy gives greater coherence to its efforts to promote in foreign countries the interests of Canada’s extractive sector—mining and oil and gas companies.

The announcement was lauded by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), both of which had input into the government strategy.

“The Government of Canada is joining the growing number of countries who recognize that success on the global stage requires a holistic partnership between government and industry,” said PDAC president Rod Thomas. “They have an important role to play in supporting both the global competitiveness of the Canadian mineral industry and its ability to contribute to the sustainable development of the societies in which it operates. We welcome their support, and look forward to working together with them to responsibly generate meaningful economic opportunities for Canadians and the citizens of host countries.”

Thomas said the strategy will benefit PDAC's members.

“(Canada is) home to the largest number of publicly listed exploration companies in the world, and over one-half of the properties of those companies are outside of Canada,” he said. “With 800 active Canadian companies exploring in over 100 countries, Canada is a global mining superpower.”

The announcement of the strategy is timely for a number of reasons, Thomas said.

“Trade liberalization has underpinned the globalization of Canada’s mineral exploration industry,” he said. “This has created economic opportunities for people in the most remote and impoverished parts of the world, who are benefiting from Canadian expertise to find and develop their mineral resources.”

But Canadian companies are facing stiff competition from foreign enterprises that have access to a wide range of assistance from their respective governments.

“Government support can help level the playing field for Canadian companies, by allowing them to tap into supports and services that facilitate access to land and markets,” Thomas said.

For example, he said, Canadian trade commissioners are key resources for companies that are considering investments, or have invested, in a foreign country.

“Trade commissioners provide companies with local knowledge of the extractive industry and how it operates regionally,” he said. “That can open up a unique and valuable channel for the Canadian extractive sector to build relationships on the ground.”

The Canadian Extractive Sector Strategy complements the government's renewed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy, Doing Business the Canadian Way, which it had already announced.

Both strategies were praised by MAC. 

"Taken together, these two strategies send a welcome signal that Canada supports and promotes a strong and vibrant Canadian mining sector both at home and abroad,” said Pierre Gratton, MAC's president and CEO. “The government of Canada is also setting a high bar for corporate responsibility performance, which our members embrace.”

Gratton said the new strategy “will add distinction to Canada's mining brand and should send a clear signal to other mining countries to take note.”

Key elements of the extractive sector strategy include:

  • Leveraging trade and investment agreements to provide more of the certainty and  predictability that Canadian businesses need in order to invest and operate abroad;
  • Advocating for improved governance and regulatory frameworks abroad and sharing best practices;
  • Increasing training in Canadian missions abroad to support the extractive sector,  and
  • Expanding stakeholder linkages to ensure the government is responsive to the needs of the extractive sector.

Ben Chalmers, MAC's VP of sustainable development, says the government's CSR and trade strategy together give Canadian mining and exploration companies a competitive advantage.

“They project the Canadian brand abroad and they give a single face to the Canadian mineral industry,” Chalmers said. “The better we are at that, the more foreign countries will want to work with Canadian mining and exploration companies.”

Gavin Dirom, president and CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia, said the coordination of business, government and local representatives abroad will help to increase the confidence of investors in mining and mineral exploration companies.

“They also make foreign diplomats aware of the efforts of Canadian companies in foreign countries and make them aware of the standards that Canadian companies follow,” Dirom said.

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