Summer 2018 Features:

Spring a busy time for MAMI


Special Report:


Reclaiming old growth timber in Saskatchewan


Mountain Province Diamonds signs MoU with De Beers


Mining giant Peter Munk passes away


PUB Advocacy win
Last year, Manitoba Hydro submitted a request to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) for a 7.9% rate increase. If this request had been realized, a once-affordable requirement (power) for mine development and exploration in Manitoba would become a roadblock for future growth.

Through 2017 and 2018, MAMI has advocated for affordable power rates, meeting with representatives from both Manitoba Hydro and the provincial government. On February 1, 2018, MAMI made a formal presentation to the PUB hearing to explain how the proposed increase would negatively affect Manitoba mining and the northern Manitoba economy in general.

On May 1, the PUB denied Manitoba Hydro’s application, instead implementing a 3.6% increase – less than half of what the utility had requested. The increases for industrial users will likely be lower than 3.6% because it costs Manitoba Hydro less to provide power to these customers.

In its final order, the PUB stated: “… expert witnesses retained by Interveners and the Board provided evidence that Manitoba Hydro’s projected rate path may lead to short-term job losses and negative impacts for some industries that are more economically vulnerable, based on the markets into which they sell their products. Industry representatives similarly gave evidence that the projected rate path will make Manitoba businesses less competitive, will lead to corporate decisions to not make investments in Manitoba locations, and may lead to plant closures.”
(Order No. 59/18, May 1, 2018)

MAMI has also been busy in other areas of advocacy including:

– MAMI’s Safety Committee co-chair Kirk Regular made a presentation at the Safety Services Manitoba Conference. MAMI also launched its ‘Members Only’ website portal for the latest mine rescue manuals and other safety materials.

Climate – MAMI met with Rob Olson, Deputy Minister, Manitoba Sustainable Development, on the province’s Made-in-Manitoba Climate Plan.

Indigenous Relations – MAMI’s Aboriginal Relations Committee held its spring meeting at the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) building and heard a presentation from MMF Chief of Staff,
Al Benoit. MAME Executive Director Andrea McLandress attended the Assembly of First Nations Lands & Resources meeting in Winnipeg. MAMI representatives met with Manitoba’s First Nations Protocol Committee’s Jim Downey, who shared the seven themes that have emerged from meetings with First Nations.

Economy – Executive Director McLandress attended the first Look North Roundtable on Mining and Other Resources in Thompson as the lead for the Northern Minerals and Other Resources Joint Action Group.

Awareness – MAMI is posting regular updates on activities and events on its website (www.mines.ca) and is active on Twitter – @miningmanitoba.

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MAMI hosts luncheon
On March 9, MAMI hosted a Manitoba Chambers of Commerce MBiz luncheon featuring the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources for the Government of Canada.

Minister Carr ran through the highlights of the recent federal budget and addressed some topics of importance to business leaders at a special MBiz luncheon.

Carr spent close to half an hour in conversation with Manitoba Chambers of Commerce President and CEO Chuck Davidson to tout the focus the government. He spoke proudly of the government’s focus on keeping indigenous families healthy ($1.5 billion over five years); providing support for housing for the Métis nation ($500 million over 10 years); and supporting post-secondary education. Carr also touched on the importance and support for continued innovation at the National Microbiology lab ($9.4 million over five years) and $35 million for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

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MAMI in the media
MAMI figured prominently in a couple of major media publications this past spring.

Winnipeg Free Press, May 24, 2018
Noted Free Press business columnist Martin Cash penned an article entitled “Manitoba mining industry losing its lustre.” Cash lamented the “coincidental timing of the end of life cycles for a couple of mines and the lengthy slump in commodity prices” as two reasons for the sad state of mining in Manitoba these days. He added that there is concern that the province “is not as engaged as it should be” in the development of the industry.

MAMI’s Andrea McLandless stated in the article, “Amongst our membership, there is a feeling that our industry is in a precarious position in Manitoba, and the signals we are getting is that the province is not supportive.” One of those signals was the decision that the province would no longer host the annual Manitoba Mining and Minerals Convention, passing it off to the Manitoba Prospectors and Developers Association.

Cash noted that in the beginning of 2018, there were seven active mines in Manitoba (not counting quarries and peat moss mines). “The Birchtree nickel mine in Thompson closed last year, the True North gold mine in Bissett closed at the beginning of this year, and the Reed Lake copper mine is closing at the end of the year. The 777 mine in Flin Flon is slated to close in 2021. Vale’s nickel smelter and refinery in Thompson will close this year. The north will lose about 1,200 jobs over the course of a couple of years.”

He added, “Manitoba mining tax rates are higher than in Saskatchewan and Ontario, and ongoing uncertainty around the resolution of disputed land claims and protected areas continue to plague the province.”

McLandress said the mining industry’s message to the province hasn’t changed in recent years: “We are looking for changes to the tax structure, some clarity and simplification on regulatory requirements, and better transportation infrastructure.”

Cash’s article went on to discuss a pair of recent developments from the province that will hopefully give a boost to the north and the mining industry. The Look North initiative “continues to bring community leaders together in the north to mine fresh ideas.” And “a process to create a new First Nations mineral-development protocol – headed by Ron Evans, former grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and Jim Downey, former deputy premier and cabinet minister – is just wrapping up its work.”

McLandress ends the article by trying to rise above the ‘doom and gloom.’ She stated, “We are trying to remain optimistic. With the Look North process, and with the First Nations mining protocol, we are looking to see what happens in the next few months.”

Winnipeg Free Press, June 9, 2018
Winnipeg’s premier daily newspaper featured a write-up and pictorial spread on the annual Mine Rescue Competition held in Lac du Bonnet (see later in this article).

Global Business Report: Saskatchewan and Manitoba Mining 2018
This 76-page document featured an interview with MAMI’s Andrea McLandress in which she is asked, “What are the main challenges in developing mining projects in Manitoba?”

McLandress replies, “Anytime there is perceived uncertainty within a given jurisdiction, the investment community is cautious. We’re working with regulators, stakeholders and rights-holders within the province to increase certainty in a number of areas, including provincial permitting processes, the Crown Duty to Consult, the proposed Manitoba Climate and Green Plan, and power rates. We are also advocating for improved transportation infrastructure, human resource development, and tax rates that are competitive with surrounding jurisdictions.”

The interview continues with discussions on the carbon tax, transportation infrastructure, and the availability of power in remote areas.

Asked about Manitoba’s geological potential for new mines, McLandress responds, “Manitoba has very exciting mineral potential in zinc, nickel, copper, gold, diamonds and lithium. Today, the federal government wants to push the transition towards clean energy technologies, while China is promoting the big switch to renewable energy and electric vehicles. All the main components can be found in Manitoba: copper, zinc, nickel and lithium. We want to promote a vision of ‘Manitoba mining for clean energy technology.’ It is a very exciting message for investors as well as for our own local and indigenous communities.”

McLandress concludes with a plea for public support for the industry: “We need citizens throughout the province to advocate for mining industry as potentially the most promising source of economic growth. Public support for the sector will influence government to make public policy choices that will promote responsible development.”

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