Dec '08/Jan '09

A view from the hill

Economy on the top of the agenda at MAC’s Mining Day on the Hill

By A. Gordon

The Honourable Lisa Raitt, the Minister of Natural Resources, and Jim Gowans, president and CEO of De Beers Canada and chair of MAC, speaking with a guest at the reception.

Over 40 of Canada’s senior mining industry executives met in Ottawa recently to take part in the Mining Association of Canada / Mining Works for Canada annual Mining Day on the Hill. Not surprisingly, at the top of this year’s agenda was the impact of recent worldwide economic events on the mining sector. To this end, industry representatives met with senior federal officials from Natural Resources Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Human Resources and Development Canada, Industry Canada, the Privy Council and the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss how the negative fallout could be mitigated and to explore ways to manage the current challenges.

“A strong mining sector benefits Canadians in every riding across this country,” said Jim Gowans, president and CEO of De Beers Canada and chair of MAC. “We are all facing difficult economic times. Now it is more important than ever that we work with government to ensure that programs, regulations and legislation help to sustain mining jobs across Canada. This is more relevant in remote locations where economic development options are limited and operating costs are high.”

Participants stressed the dangers of complacency, highlighting the mining sector’s contribution to the economy, such as its $41.9 billion contribution to the GDP, $25 billion in capital expenditures and direct employment of 363,000 individuals. They called upon the government to:

  • Stay the course to improve the investment climate;
  • Maintain its commitment to regulatory review and implementation of the Northern Regulatory Improvement Initiative;
  • Implement regulations for air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions that are efficient and effective, without duplication between jurisdictions, and set appropriate targets;
  • Implement a clear approach by governments on consultation with and accommodation of First Nations, efficient resolution of First Nation land claims and a strategy to encourage aboriginal participation in mining.

During a luncheon, keynote speaker Don Drummond — senior vice president and chief economist, TD Bank Financial Group, and chair of the Advisory Panel, Labour Market Information — spoke about the global economy and its implications for mining. He also used the venue as an opportunity to gain an understanding of the mining industry’s concern over labour market information. Approximately 90 guests from the mining sector and federal officials participated in the interactive session.

“The economic challenge we all face is daunting but working together will help us achieve appropriate outcomes to meet climate change commitments, secure a skilled workforce and set the stage for a competitive and productive future for all Canadians,” stated Gordon Peeling, MAC’s president and CEO.

The day concluded with a reception that included over 300 guests and several parliamentarians who were in Ottawa for the first day of the Parliamentary sessions. Many MPs from key mining jurisdictions were present. In her opening remarks for the reception, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, the Minister of Natural Resources, signaled to delegates that she was interested in working with the mining sector, which was particularly welcome news in these uncertain economic times.

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