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Mines ministers pledge to cut duplication of regulations concerning the environment.

Mines ministers pledge to cut duplication of regulations concerning the environment

The Canadian mining industry is requesting that the provincial and federal mining ministries exercise reasonable judgement in applying tough, new environmental regulations to the industry.

That's the message the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) delivered Aug. 28 to Canada's mines ministers at their 47th-annual conference in Winnipeg, Man.

The ministers concluded their meeting with a communique that pledged efforts to reduce federal/provincial regulatory duplication, which is making it increasingly difficult for Canadian mining companies to operate in today's environment-conscious atmosphere.

"We believe that sustainable mining is an achievable goal," said MAC president George Miller. "That is, a mining industry that provides for the material needs of society and the economic needs of employees, communities and shareholders, while operating in a manner that safeguards the health of the environment," he added.

The ministers' final communique made little mention of the problems facing Canada's junior mining companies. The Prospectors' and Developers' Association of Canada (PDAC) predicted the collapse of the junior exploration sector in 1991 if nothing is done to restore investor confidence.

"If Canada is to maintain its competitive position over the long term, then its junior companies - those companies which play a major role in finding new ore deposits - must be nurtured and nourished," said PDAC president Robert Ginn.

The ministers, while acknowledging the problems facing junior exploration firms, made no promises, nor did they publicly suggest any solutions. The communique was carefully worded to omit even a passing mention of the Canadian Exploration Incentive Program, which was cancelled by Ottawa in 1989.

Timiskaming Tory MP John MacDougall, the chairman of the conference and parliamentary secretary to Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Jake Epp, made it clear to CEIP advocates that the once-popular incentive program is a non-issue as far as the government is concerned.

"We (Ottawa) have comments from those in the exploration community which suggest a satisfactory level of exploration spending would be about $800 million annually," said MacDougall.

MacDougall said exploration activity was overheated in 1986 and 1987 when spending topped $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion. Since that time, MacDougall said the big factors affecting juniors have been the price of metals and the stock market crash of October 1987.

"There are indications that spending this year will be somewhere between $750 million and $850 million," said MacDougall. "It would be awfully difficult for me or anyone else to approach the minister of finance to reverse the decision if the industry expectations are being met."

In the meantime, a government-industry working group is monitoring the junior exploration sector with a specific eye to determining whether investors channel funds to juniors as metal prices improve, despite the absence of the CEIP.
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Title Annotation:Mining Report
Author:Vinvent, Kevin
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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