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May 6, 2010 - No. 71

MEG offers free one-month trial of its new publication, Industry Monitor

From May 17 to June 17, access to Metals Economics Group’s new publication, Industry Monitor, will be free of charge. The report contains commentary and graphs on current developments and emerging trends in precious and base metals exploration and production, from initial drill results to financing and production.” MEG Industry Monitor is published every second month and uses data and information collected and compiled by the Halifax-based group. For more information about the publication, click here. To register for the trial, click here or call 1 902 429 2880.

Join the anti-Bill C-300 campaign on Facebook and LinkedIn

David Clarry, a Toronto-based civil engineer and consultant, has set up pages on two popular social media sites in support of the industry’s efforts to fight Bill C-300, a private member’s bill that would exact punitive sanctions on extractive companies found to be in violation of corporate social responsibility standards when working in developing countries. Members are invited to share their knowledge and personal experiences of Canadian mining activities overseas to counter the allegations of the industry’s human rights and environmental transgressions being voiced by the well meaning but ill informed supporters of the bill. The two sites are LinkedIn and Facebook. You may also want to take a look at the Facebook page of the bill’s sponsor, MP John McKay. It is here.

Independent think - tank attacks Bill C-300

The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) has vigorously attacked Bill C-300, stating that the proposed legislation “has to be in the running for the worst piece of legislation before Parliament.”  The independent think-tank, which includes members of civil society, academia, government and the private sector, works on corporate social responsibility issues and indigenous governance in mining. In its April newsletter, the organization says that the proposed legislation “would weaken one of Canada’s most competitive industries by imposing Canada-only costs on companies that, contrary to the bill’s assumption, are acknowledged global CSR leaders.”  The full article is here.

Talking of legislation…

Bill C-429 is a private member’s bill introduced by a Bloc Québecois member that would require the Minister of Public Works, before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property, to give preference to the use of wood while taking into account the cost and greenhouse gas emissions. The bill has passed second reading and is at the committee stage. Full details here.

Changes to corporate stock option plans

Companies offering stock options to their employees are advised to review their programs following significant changes to the tax treatment of stock options announced in the 2010 federal budget. Many of the changes are effective for stock options exercised after 4:00 pm (EST) on March 4, 2010. The changes affect the tax treatment of stock option cash-outs and eliminate the opportunity to defer tax on the employment benefit that results from exercising qualifying stock options in public companies and private companies that are non-Canadian controlled private corporations. The budget measures also require companies to immediately withhold tax on employee stock option benefits starting with stock options exercised after 2010. For employees with underwater stock options, the budget measures may provide some welcome tax relief for stock options going back as far as 2001. KPMG LLP explains the changes in more detail here.

National Mining Week ? May 10-16

The second week of May is designated by the federal government as Canada’s National Mining Week. This year’s theme is creating jobs and opportunity for a sustainable future and will highlight mining’s contribution to Canada’s economic recovery. “To ensure long-term competitiveness, both the government and the mining industry recognize the need to advance efforts to improve the social and environmental performance of the sector,” said the Natural Resources Canada announcement. More information on National Mining Week can be found here.

New tool for aboriginal youth depicts job opportunities in mining

The wide range of jobs available in mining is illustrated on a new website developed by Cambrian College in Sudbury and the Ontario Mineral Industry Cluster Council. While the target audience is principally aboriginal, the site provides useful career information for all young people starting to make decisions about courses and directions to take in high school. Called the Earth Series, the site unfolds in four segments, each of which contains a list of jobs and careers. Clicking on the word ‘geologist,’ for example, takes the user to descriptions of what a geologist does, where he/she can expect to work, some of the personal characteristics required, geologists’ career opportunities, and the education and training needed to become a geologist. The site also contains descriptions of jobs which are not specific to the industry, e.g., cook, plumber. These descriptions, however, contain information on what cooks and plumbers do in the mining industry. While the site is a bit slow to download, it is comprehensive and easy to use. Take a look here.

NWT-Nunavut Chamber of Mines says plan for North a step in the right direction

John Kearney, president of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, says that the federal government’s action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes, announced on May 3, is a step in the right direction. As part of the plan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Chuck Strahl has appointed John Pollard, a former minister of finance of the NWT government, as chief federal negotiator to lead consultations and negotiations on the re-structuring of the land and water boards to simplify permitting and licensing processes. Kearney cautions, however, that the plan is lacking in specifics, including timelines. Details here.

Maplecroft ’s Political Risk Atlas 2010 suggests risks are rising

India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have all fallen in the rankings of a new political risk index released by Maplecroft, a firm that assesses global risks for business investment. The political risk index forms part of Maplecroft's Political Risk Atlas 2010 and rates 196 countries across those issues most commonly found on corporate risk registers, including: conflict and terrorism; regime stability; the rule of law; corruption; expropriation; and business and macroeconomic environments. More information about the publication is here.