* Ranking based on survey of mining, exploration companies
* Nordic countries said to have stable mining policies
* Uncertainty over land claims hurts Canada rankings
TORONTO, Feb 28 The Nordic countries of Finland
and Sweden have topped an annual ranking of the world's best
jurisdictions for miners to operate, beating out all of Canada's
provinces for the first time in six years.
The uncertainty that comes with dealing with disputes over
aboriginal land claims is a rising concern for miners looking to
operate in Canada, said a report released on Thursday by the
Fraser Institute, in explaining why Canadian jurisdictions fell
The report, based on a survey of 742 mining and exploration
companies, looks at whether mining policies in 96 jurisdictions
around the world encourage investment. The Canadian Atlantic
province of New Brunswick, which placed first last year, fell to
"In the opinion of mining executives who guide investment
decisions, things are changing in Canada's policy context that
make it look less appealing," said Kenneth Green, the
institute's senior director for energy and natural resources
That said, Canadian jurisdictions still did well, relative
to the rest of the world. Alberta placed third, and Yukon
Territory also made the top 10.
Other top jurisdictions included the western U.S. states of
Wyoming, Nevada and Utah, as well as the Republic of Ireland.
Indonesia ranked as the least attractive location for
investment, according to the survey.
The Fraser Institute, a think tank that typically advocates
lighter government regulation, releases its rankings each year
on the eve of the Prospectors and Developers Association of
Canada convention. This year's PDAC convention, the industry's
largest gathering, kicks off on Sunday in Toronto.
TOP OF THE WORLD
Finland got points for its tax system, political stability,
and labor supply, and because there is little of the uncertainty
around disputed land claims seen in other jurisdictions.
"The Nordic countries seem to have very stable policy
regimes," said Green. "They have ranked well for many, many
One respondent quoted anonymously in the report said
Finland has "no unnecessary regulations and a government that
supports mining and clears away obstructions."
Utah and Ireland got top billing for infrastructure, and
Sweden was found to suffer from less redundant or inconsistent
regulation than most jurisdictions.
DUTY TO CONSULT
The Supreme Court of Canada has said that governments must
consult with aboriginal groups before taking any action that
might affect their treaty rights, including "credible but
unproven" land claims.
Exactly what that means is in dispute. On Monday, the
government of the Canada's Yukon territory said it would ask the
top court to hear a related case. But for now, in practice, land
claims could emerge as a factor in nearly any new mining
The birth of "Idle No More," a new Canadian protest movement
focused on aboriginal rights, could also rachet up pressure on
miners looking to launch new projects.
Helped by social media, Idle No More has spread across the
country and abroad, drawing comparisons to "Occupy Wall Street."
It has staged protests in dozens of shopping malls across North
America, and there have also been rallies, marches and highway
and rail blockades.
Residents of the remote northern community of Attawapiskat,
Ontario, unhappy with the terms of their 2005 deal with De
Beers, a subsidiary of Anglo American PLC, have twice
this year set up blockades on an ice road leading to the
company's Victor diamond mine.
"Comments from miners suggest that while Canadian
jurisdictions remain competitive globally, uncertainties with
aboriginal consultation and disputed land claims are growing
concerns for some," the Fraser Institute report said.