In 2010 the Canadian mining industry continued to build upon the economic recovery that marked 2009 and is now an engine of growth for Canada’s economy. This resurgence was fuelled by strong demand and high commodity prices. This economic environment has stimulated new investment, driven increased exploration activity and increased exports.
The strong and vibrant mining industry played a key role in Canada’s ability to ride out the recession and continues to do so during a time of fragile recovery. While many sectors struggled in 2010, mining accounted for 19% of Canadian exports, almost $10 billion in annual payments to governments, and provided business for 3,200 supplier companies, including approximately half of the freight revenue of Canada’s railroads. While important in remote communities, the industry also creates prosperity in our major cities – Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon all feature areas of global mining leadership.
Corporate social responsibility remained a critical issue throughout the year as national and international entities grappled with the growing number of standards and increased expectations from engaged civil societies. While the Canadian industry is viewed internationally as a leader in the corporate social responsibility due to large investments in education and health-care facilities, nutrition programs, and community facilities in developing countries, navigating the increasingly complex landscape of initiatives is a growing concern. The issue was brought into sharp focus by Bill C-300, a private member’s bill that was deeply flawed, contentious and divisive, but that challenged MAC and the Canadian industry in general to respond both to the bill itself and an effective grassroots NGO campaign supporting the bill and criticizing the industry. The bill was ultimately defeated, but the return of the issue in the new Parliament is possible and perhaps likely. The C-300 experience led MAC and the membership to recognize that we had to be better prepared and organized going forward, leading to the creation of a new International Social Responsibility committee.
For more details on the topics discussed here, and on other aspects of MAC’s work, we encourage you to read the annual report in full.