The Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba have replaced Western Australia (WA) as the most attractive jurisdictions in the world for mining investment, according to the annual global survey of mining executives released by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian policy think-tank. WA has moved from top spot to third.

"A richness of mineral reserves, coupled with competitive tax regimes, efficient permitting procedures and certainty surrounding environmental regulations can still attract significant investment, even with slumping commodity prices," said Fraser Institute's energy and natural resource studies senior director Kenneth Green, who is also co-author of the institute's Annual Survey of Mining Companies, 2016.

The survey ranks 104 jurisdictions around the world based on geologic attractiveness and the extent government policies encourage or deter exploration and investment.

The rest of the top 10 (in ranking order) includes the US state of Nevada, Finland, the Canadian province of Quebec, the US state of Arizona, Sweden, Republic of Ireland and the Australian state of Queensland, which rose from 16th in the 2015 survey.

Notably, Chile tumbled from 11th to 39th and now ranks below Peru at 28th. Argentina continues to fall in the eyes of mining investors, with five Argentinian provinces placing in the bottom 10 jurisdictions worldwide. Near the bottom of the rankings, Venezuela is the third least attractive jurisdiction for mining investment globally.

The African continent, as a whole, continues to look better and better in the eyes of investors, this year buoyed by Ivory Coast (17th), Botswana (19th) and Ghana (22nd). As a region, Africa ranks ahead of Oceania, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Argentina for its investment attractiveness.

In the survey's Australia and Oceania section South Australia was behind WA and Queensland but dropped from 10th to 13th overall; followed by Northern Territory in fourth, dropping from seventh to 20th; Fiji, improving from 79th to 41st; Tasmania, dropping from 30th to 56th; Victoria, improving from 62nd to 57th; Papua New Guinea, dropping from 43rd to 59th; New South Wales, dropping from 38th to 62nd; Philippines, improving from 72nd to 66th; New Zealand, dropping from 44th to 67th; Indonesia, dropping from 49th to 78th; and Malaysia, dropping from 76th to 93rd.

In the Asia section China was top moving to 54th from 64th followed by Kazakhstan, which tumbled from 20th to 73rd; Mongolia, which improved from 85th to 81st; Myanmar, from 87th to 91st; India, from 73rd to 97th or eighth worst; and Afghanistan, which made its first appearance at 100th, fifth worst.

This year, the Fraser Institute also released a separate study examining issues surrounding the exploration permitting process.

Overall, Permit Times for Mining Exploration in 2016 finds that Canadian provinces performed better than their international counterparts for approving exploratory permits, but a number of states in the US and Australia, as well as Finland and Sweden tended to offer more transparency in the permitting process, and explorers in these jurisdictions had more confidence than those in Canada that they would receive their necessary permits.

"Time is money, and if permit approval times are unnecessarily long or lack transparency, confidence plummets, overall costs increase and investors will take their money elsewhere," said Fraser Institute senior policy analyst Taylor Jackson, who is also co-author of the two studies.

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organisation with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries.

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