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Sudbury Mining Solutions

Commentary

All eyes on Ontario

Ontario is once again laying out the red carpet for the world’s mineral exploration industry as thousands of delegates from all over the world converge on Toronto for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s 2009 International Convention, Trade Show and Investor’s Exchange.

This year’s extravaganza coincides with one of the most precipitous nose-dives in commodity prices the mining industry has ever experienced. In the short span of a few months, the commodities market has gone from boom to bust. Yet, if this issue’s cover story on gold is any indication of what’s to come, the seeds of the revival are already sprouting.

Investors with lots of cash will be busy at this year’s PDAC prowling the aisles and hotel corridors looking for junior mining companies with projects poised to take advantage of a widely predicted increase in the price of gold. As our cover story demonstrates, Ontario boasts a large and diverse collection of promising gold projects from Kirkland Lake and Timmins in the northeast, to Geraldton and Red Lake in the northwest. As the U.S., Europe, China and Canada stimulate their economies and demand increases, base metal prices are also predicted to recover.

One of the world’s most important mining jurisdictions, Ontario is well endowed with mineral wealth, enjoys political stability and boasts a strong supply and service sector, world-class educational institutions and a critical mass of expertise. Mining has served as an engine of growth for Ontario, and especially the province’s north, for more than a century, aided by a regulatory and legislative environment that has evolved and adapted to changing times.

All eyes are now on Ontario’s government as it prepares to unveil revisions to the Mining Act in response to some of the most recent pressures for change. The key issues are accommodation of First Nation interests and the proposed withdrawal of more than half of the province’s Far North from mining and other resource development.

Considering the infinitesimally small footprint of a mine, the vast size of the lands in question, the sparse population and the strict environmental safeguards governing mine developments in Ontario, I can’t see how the designation of large tracts of parkland in the province’s Far North will make the area any more pristine than it already is or will be without a withdrawal of land from mining exploration and development.

Investors and mining companies talking drill results, reserves and ore grades in the aisles at the PDAC will be watching with interest as Ontario crafts a policy framework that strives to preserve an important engine of growth against a background of heightened, maybe even exaggerated, environmental concern.

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