Mining employment and output in Canada’s north will double by decade’s end, according to a Conference Board of Canada report released this morning.
The report forecasts that Canada’s overall northern metal and non-metallic mineral output will grow by 91% from 2011 to 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 7.5%. The Conference Board terms that growth “staggering,” compared with anticipated 2.2% annual growth in the Canadian economy as a whole for the same time period.
The report projected that the annual gross domestic product of mining in the north will surge to $8.5 billion in 2020 from $4.4 billion in 2011.
The report identifies potential hurdles to mining growth in the region, including inadequate or non-existent infrastructure and skilled labour shortages. It adds that “aboriginal rights must be respected and communities must be consulted for projects to be developed sustainably.”
Anja Jeffrey, director of the board’s Centre for the North, said Canadians need to find the right balance between risk and opportunity in order to maximize the benefits of the north.
“For instance, governments need to be conscious of how changes to the regulatory environment can affect communities and industry,” she said. “Strong efforts to ensure a favourable business climate can leave communities feeling vulnerable. Going too far in the opposite direction can act as a deterrent to investment.”
The report argues that the sector would benefit from:
- more transparent impact and benefits agreements;
- public-private partnerships to fund infrastructure gaps;
- increased aboriginal training programs to fill labour gaps;
- improved communications between the mining industry and aboriginal communities;
- improved environmental stewardship; and
- mine closure plans developed in collaboration with local communities.