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India lays out red carpet for Ontario mining expertise

India is showing a keen interest in developing its mining and mineral sector.

Three recent visits by Indian government officials, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Ontario and the province’s first mining trade mission to India in November were all strong indications that India is making the mining and mineral sector a strategic priority.

“First and foremost, the Government of India recognizes that in order to sustain its economic growth, they have to foster their mining and mineral sectors,” said Indira Singh, executive director with the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry’s (MNDMF) Ontario Mineral Industry Cluster Council.

India produces 89 different minerals and has more than 3,000 operating mines, of which approximately one-third are privately owned. Two-way trade between India and Canada in 2009 amounted to $4 billion, and is forecast to increase to $15 billion in the next five years, according to Pierre Gignac, senior vice-president of Export Development Canada. The annual growth rate of India’s mining industry is predicted to be 5.1 per cent until 2015.

In order to meet the needs of its growing middle class, India’s government has opened up its mining industry to foreign direct investment through the development of a new mineral policy, which will reduce government regulations and promote private sector involvement. Singh said a cabinet committee is currently reviewing the policy before sending it to parliament. It’s expected to be passed by March 2011.

“There are some significant amendments to India’s Mining Act which promote sustainable development and are more investor friendly,” Singh said. In the past, India permitted exploration but not mine development. Now, any junior miner can prospect, stake claims, explore and develop a mine.

The signing of the MOU between the Government of Ontario and the Republic of India’s Ministry of Mines occurred on July 8, 2010. Although India’s mining industry is not as developed as Canada’s, both countries stand to benefit from the accord.

“You cannot be profitable in a global economy if you only serve your home market,” Singh said.

“Canada needs to have a growth-oriented strategy for emerging markets and India offers that.”

India provides business and investment opportunities for Canadian mining suppliers, juniors and investors, as well as a potential market for human resources and potential linkages for research institutions like the Sudbury-based Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI). The country also employs more than two million people in its well-developed diamond cutting and polishing industry.

India can benefit from Ontario’s exploration and mining expertise, as well as its training and skills development know-how.

“We have a number of institutions (in Ontario) that provide training,” Singh said. “We are looking at exchange programs for students, professors and researchers with local educational institutions.”

A joint-working group was established and met in September and November during the India mining mission to work out logistics and identify areas that require capacity building. David O’Toole, MNDMF’s recently appointed deputy minister, chairs the new committee. He was also one of several Canadian delegates representing Ontario’s interest during the trade mission to India.

Trade mission

The trade mission to Kolkata from November 9th to the 13th, encompassed two back-to-back events: the International Mining & Machinery Exhibition (IMME), a bi-annual show organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries in association with India’s Ministry of Mines, and the Global Mining Summit, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry in co-operation with the Ministry of Mines.

The Ontario trade mission was sponsored by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in partnership with MNDMF and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. |

The IMME welcomed 360 exhibitors, of which 65 per cent were from outside of India. Approximately 15,000 visitors attended, including major Indian buyers of equipment and services as well as those
interested in collaborating with international companies.

Eight Canadian companies attended and participated in individual meetings with approximately eight to 10 companies each. Ontario hosted an invitation-only reception for bankers, pension fund managers and other Indian business people interested in investment opportunities in Ontario.


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