Levelling the Playing Field

The purpose of this report is to provide policymakers and the broader public with more information on the uneven playing field faced by mineral exploration and mining companies operating in northern and remote Canada.

The purpose of this report is to provide policy makers and the broader public with more information on the uneven playing field faced by mineral exploration and mining companies operating in northern and remote Canada, in order to catalyze smart and effective public investments that support responsible northern resource development. While the primary audience of the report is the federal government, provincial and territorial governments should also review the recommendations and explore to what extent they could adopt or adapt them for implementation
at a regional level.

The report begins by assessing the mineral industry’s value proposition for remote and northern regions, outlining past and current contributions as well as future opportunities. The report then identifies a “disconnect” between stated federal social and economic development policy objectives for remote and northern regions and federal fiscal policy, in light of several recent mineral industry tax policy reforms.

The body of the report quantitatively establishes the cost differential to undertake exploration and mine development and operation in remote and northern versus centrally located jurisdictions. It then determines the principal sources of those cost differentials, and assesses their impact on the economics of remote and northern exploration and mining projects. The report puts forward recommendations that, by enhancing the competitiveness of industry activities in remote and northern regions, will help federal, provincial and territorial governments deliver on publicly stated social and economic policy objectives for these regions.

The study only focuses on the cost differential between north and south and does not examine other issues that relate to the relative competitiveness of the northern operating environment.

Finally, a note on how the authors understand the scope of the report and its intended audience. There is an automatic tendency to think exclusively of the three territories when using the words “north” and “northern.” For the purposes of this report, however, the terms “north” and “northern” (unless otherwise specifically indicated) are used in a more inclusive sense to include remote and northern regions of the provinces (as well as the territories).

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