Western Australia (WA) has lost its place as the world’s most attractive jurisdiction for mining investment, dropping from first to fifth, according to an annual global survey of mining executives released last week by the Fraser Institute. The 2014 survey by the independent Canadian-based organization revealed Finland as the most attractive.

The Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies rates 122 jurisdictions based on their geologic attractiveness and the extent to which government policies encourage exploration and investment. In addition to being blessed with an abundance of mineral potential, it says Finland earned high scores for having clear regulatory guidelines, an effective tax regime and a robust labour market.

“This is the fifth consecutive year that Finland has ranked among the global top 10 for mining investment. The confidence miners show in Finland proves it’s possible to enact sound environmental protections and still maintain a successful mining industry,” said Fraser Institute senior director Natural Resource Studies and director of the Survey of Mining Companies, Kenneth Green.

WA was the only jurisdiction in Australasia to feature in the top 10 while Malaysia also featured in the survey … for the wrong reasons. Malaysia finished 70th in 2013 but is now the least attractive jurisdiction for investment. The nation ranks last in mineral potential and 120th in policy perception.

All Australian jurisdictions slipped in 2014 rankings, apart from South Australia which rose from 20 to 19. NSW slipped from 39 to 51, Northern Territory from 17 to 31, Queensland from 21 to 27, Tasmania from 36 to 39 and Victoria from 43 to 66.

It was a similar situation for most Asian and South Pacific jurisdictions. Indonesia dropped from 66 to 76, Papua New Guinea from 50 to 73, the Philippines from 61 to 101, New Zealand from 32 to 44, China from 72 to 97, Kazakhstan from 67 to 70, Mongolia from 81 to 85, Thailand from 75 to 88 and Vietnam from 73 to 86.

Cambodia came in at 81 and Solomon Islands at 118 with both not featuring in 2013. An improver was Fiji, up from 92 to 53, and India rose from 74 to 60. Other improvers were Myanmar, up from 59 to 46, Laos, from 100 to 69, and Kyrgyz Republic, from 105 to 98.

Canada and the USA fare prominently in the 2014 survey: Saskatchewan is top-ranked Canadian province-coming in second overall, while Nevada is the top US state placing third. Eight out of the top 10 worldwide jurisdictions are in North America. The top 10 is 1 Finland, 2 Saskatchewan, 3 Nevada, 4 Manitoba, 5 Western Australia, 6 Quebec, 7 Wyoming, 8 Newfoundland and Labrador, 9 Yukon and 10 Alaska.

“Both Canada and the United States have traditionally done well in this survey,” Kenneth Green said. “Many Canadian provinces continue to rank highly, buoyed by transparent and productive mining policies. Conversely, the survey suggests that investment attractiveness in the United States is being driven more by mineral potential than improvements in policy.”

Chile, ranked 13th overall, remains the most attractive jurisdiction for mining investment in Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, while the collective sub-national jurisdictions of Argentina experienced a 45% increase in their overall scores from 2013.

The African continent, as a whole, bettered its performance from 2013, lifted by policy score improvements in Angola, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Botswana. Namibia and Botswana top the list of African nations ranking 25th and 26th respectively.

The survey showed that many jurisdictions have considerable room for improvement. Papua New Guinea is the jurisdiction with the most room for improvement. Closely following it are Brazil, Argentina-Santa Cruz, Mongolia, and Indonesia. British Columbia is the Canadian province with the most room for improvement.

The survey was conducted between August 26 and November 15, 2014, and includes the responses of 485 mineral exploration and development company executives from around the world. Exploration budgets reported by companies participating in the survey totalled US$2.7 billion in 2014 and US$3.2 billion in 2013.

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