Remote and northern Canada is rich in mineral resources and the minerals industry is a proven key private sector driver of economic activity in these areas. Due to the transportation infrastructure deficit in remote Canada, it is significantly more expensive to explore and mine. A recent study undertaken by PDAC with other industry associations found that:
- Exploration projects more than 50 km from a supply route have average all-in costs 2.27 times higher than non-remote projects (up to 50 km away).
- Projects in the most remote regions of the country have average all in costs 3 times more than non-remote projects.
- Capital costs for producing mines are up to 2.5 times more in remote areas. Operating costs are as much as 60% higher.
Notwithstanding the challenges posed by remoteness, almost 200 mineral deposits have been found in Canada’s three territories. A recent PDAC study revealed that a high percentage of these discoveries remain undeveloped. In Nunavut, the NWT and the Yukon a staggering 85%, 69% and 77% of mineral discoveries (respectively) await development. If infrastructure investments can costs by 10%, the PDAC study suggested that this could result in half a dozen additional precious/base metal mines in remote areas, with significant impacts on northern employment, business development and revenue generation for governments.
To capitalize on the economic potential of remote and northern Canada, PDAC has recommended since 2013 that the Government of Canada create an infrastructure investment bank that could help finance resource-development-related infrastructure projects in remote and northern Canada. We are very pleased that the Government of Canada, in its 2016 announcement, has scoped its proposed Canada Infrastructure Bank to include projects that contribute to jobs and growth.