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Hendrick voices industry's concerns to mines ministers.

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) wants governments to form a task force to assess Canada's relative attractiveness as a place for mineral exploration and development.

The task force was recommended last month by MAC chairman Keith Hendrick during the opening session of the 48th Mines Ministers Conference, held in Halifax, N.S.

"Canada's position as a mineral producer has slipped in recent years," Hendrick stated.

Despite a 200-per-cent increase in gold output in the 1980s, Canada dropped to fifth from third place among gold producers, he added.

The task force, to include federal, provincial and industry representatives, would assemble data on recent trends in exploration and development spending by Canadian companies in Canada and abroad. It would also examine how Canada compares to other countries with respect to geological potential, political risk and costs.

"Both industry and government need a solid base of facts in order to work effectively together, stated Hendrick.

In his address the MAC chairman also voiced the industry's concern about such issues as government-imposed regulatory requirements, land use, human resources and federal fiscal policies.

Hendrick stated that the association is concerned about environmental regulatory requirements that are "not scientifically based, are technically unrealistic or are unnecessarily burdensome and costly."

It wants governments to demonstrate the need for each new regulation, match the standards and criteria of required performance with the industry's capabilities, exercise caution in adopting international actions, avoid duplication of federal and provincial regulatory and project assessment activities and ensure that liability for environmental damage is equitable.

Hendrick also urged the mines ministers to seek a favorable answer from the federal finance minister on the tax treatment of reclamation expenditures. The association believes the finance department has unnecessarily delayed a response to the industry's proposal to allow income tax deductions for contributions to a government-mandated mine reclamation fund.

On the subject of land use, the MAC brief referred to "a growing trend of land alienation from mineral exploration and development in the 1980s." It identified more specific concern about proposals in the federal Green Plan to reserve up to 12 per cent of Canada's land mass for natural parks and wilderness areas.

Hendrick called for "a mix of policies designed to reduce government deficits and debt load, to retrain disproportionate increases in Canadian prices, taxes and wage costs relative to Canada's competitors and to enhance Canada's competitiveness."

The association brief criticized the continuing large sales of gold from Canada's official reserve by the Canadian government as "inconsistent with efforts of the Royal Canadian Mint and the industry to increase the demand for new production of gold."

According to the association, "Canada has a significant mineral resource endowment and a strong mining industry. However, their future contribution to Canada is not assured unless both industry and governments adopt strategies to build on these advantages and to respond to global competition."

Hendrick noted that mining's contribution to Canada's economy is considerable, with more than 500 mines employing 106,000 people and with ripple effects which triple the economic impact.

Last year the value of mineral output was more than $20 billion, representing 4.5 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product. Mining accounts for 18 per cent of the value of the country's exports.
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Title Annotation:Mining Association of Canada chairman Keith Hendrick
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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