Case Study: Community Involvement at Nicolet Minerals
International Mining Journals
New survey assesses mineral incentives
Monday, January 06, 2003
Local News - Kirkland Lake, Ontario
Ontario is only rated eighth in the Fraser Institute's annual survey of mining companies.
The Fraser Institute has conducted the annual survey of metal mining companies to assess how mineral incentives, and public policy factors, such as taxation and regulation affect exploration investment.
The current survey ask companies for their opinions about the investment attractiveness of 45 jurisdictions, including Canadian provinces, (excluding Prince Edward Island), selected U.S. states, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Paupa New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
The Fraser Institute says the Policy Potential Index is a report card to governments on how attractive their policies are from the point of view of an exploration manager.
The Institute points out that in today's globally competitive economy, where mining companies may be examining properties located on different continents, a region's policy climate has taken on increased importance in attracting and winning investment.
The Policy Potential Index is a composite index that measures the effects on exploration of government policies, including taxation, environmental regulations, administration and duplication of regulations, uncertainty concerning native land claims, protected areas, labour issues, infrastructure, socio-economic agreements, and political stability. The highest possible score on the index is 100.
In the 2002/2003 survey, Nevada and Alberta tied for top place on the Policy Potential Index with a score of 87. This is the third straight year that Nevada has topped the ratings. It is a first for Alberta. Last year Nevada was tied with Chile for the top score. The other top rated jurisdictions are; Chile, 85, Manitoba, 81, New Brunswick, 79, Australia 78, Quebec, 77, Ontario 76, New Mexico, 75, and Saskatchewan, 74.
The worst performing jurisdictions include; Indonesia, 19, Zimbabwe, 20, British Columbia and Russia tied at 23, Kazakhstan, 24, Papua New Guinea, 25, Wisconsin and India tied at 26, and California, the Philippines and Washington all received a score of 29.
The Fraser Institute says it is worthy of note that this is the first time in the survey's six-year history that British Columbia has not been rated last for its mining policies.
"The increasingly sophisticated political maneuvering
by environmental special interest groups have made permitting a mine in
Wisconsin an impossibility."
The previous issue of MEM featured a case study in which Nicolet Minerals described how it has positively tackled the challenge of working with communities, special interest groups and environmental activists during the permitting process at its Crandon Mine in Wisconsin, US (MEM, March, p.19; see link above).
Nevertheless, the Wolf Watershed Educational Project (WWEP), a US-based alliance of environmental groups, Native American nations, local residents, unions and students, is still campaigning vigorously against the proposed mine. The WWEP claims to have the goal of educating and informing local communities about the "threat" of sulphide mining. In what it calls a grassroots 'people power' movement against "corporate power in Wisconsin", the WWEP held a student/youth rally at the State Capitol in Madison, on April 29, to demand a halt to the permitting of the Crandon mine. In addition, it is pushing for a blanket ban on the use of cyanide in Wisconsin, following the recent incidents in Romania.
This is just one example of what is becoming a very real threat to the global mining industry: global environmental activism and, increasingly, global anti-mining activism.
The British Columbia and Yukon Chamber of Mines has announced that in a recent public opinion poll, designed by Versus Group International, 96% of residents polled support an increase in mining in the province of British Columbia, provided that there is an economic benefit and it is conducted in an environmentally responsible way. The poll also indicated that support is wide spread across all regions of the province, urban and rural. Whilst this can not be taken as a representative international sample, it does show that there is public support for the industry out there. This support needs to be channelled effectively if the industry is to overcome the current threat posed by anti-mining activism.
The majority of international activist groups are based in wealthy industrialised societies. Questions they should ask themselves are these: should a successful service-orientated society (where standard of living and commercial success depend on natural resources) expect to maintain a balance between economic needs and social and environmental goals, without a domestic mining industry?. Is it reasonable to rely on less developed countries for their raw materials - countries where mining is often less regulated, and where greater social and environmental impact can occur?. Surely this is in direct conflict with the overall aims of the majority of environmentalists.
The problem for the industry is that anti-mining activists are extremely good at disseminating information, whether it be reliable, accurate information or not. The use of the Internet has strengthened their already successful 'traditional' campaign tactics and the industry thus far is sadly lacking in the same drive. Referring again to the British Columbia opinion poll, which was undertaken this January, most residents polled stated that they lacked definitive information on the mining industry; severely underestimating the number of mines in the province, the amount of land impacted by mining operations over the past 140 years, and the economic return per hectare of land provided by the mining industry when compared with forestry or agriculture.
This should send out a clear signal to the mining industry that it should be more diligent in communicating information to the public and government. Scientific and engineering related information may not be enough (people tend not to trust scientists as much today as in the past), we need to add community-related information which directly addresses all the concerns and fears expressed by all sectors. Most importantly, we need to challenge the incorrect perceptions and unfounded fears that have been brought about by years of campaigning by anti-mining groups.
Convincing the public to accept a new mining development
in their area and to cease campaigning for the closure of mines may not
be easy, but it is a task that needs to be undertaken. To begin with,
the mining industry must end its self-imposed silence and actively promote
what it does throughout the media. Advertising its benefits to society
will take time and money, but it is time and money that cannot be better
Nevada, Quebec tops spots for exploration
Jan 17 - 23, 2000
vol. 85 no. 47
Nevada and Quebec are the most attractive places to explore for minerals in the world, according to a study by the Fraser Institute.
The Vancouver-based research group based its findings on mineral potential, taxation, regulatory consistencies and land use policies.
"Exploration investment is a key indicator of the future health of the mining industry," says the study's co-ordinator, Laura Jones, who is the institute's director of environmental and regulatory studies.
Other regions favoured in the study include Chile, Australia, Manitoba, Peru, Ontario, Alaska, Argentina and Mexico.
At the opposite end of the scale, Maine and British Columbia were rated the least attractive place to explore for minerals. It was the third consecutive year B.C. received the lowest score of any jurisdiction for policy potential.
Other low-ranking regions include Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas and California.
"While many jurisdictions have favourable geology that could easily compete with other regions around the world to attract investment, unfavourable policies increasingly threaten new exploration," Jones says.
The survey was based on a poll of 111 mining companies, including 88 juniors, which are said to represent 43% of all mineral-related expenditures in Canada and 35% of those in the U.S.
DIARY: Mining Companies Rate Investment Attractiveness Of Jurisdictions
Who Makes the Grade?
Excerpted from Fraser
Institute 1999/2000 Annual Survey of Mining Companies: The full survey
can be found at: http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/publications/surveys/1999_12_mining/
The idea to survey mining companies about how government policies and mineral potential affect new exploration investment came from a Fraser Institute conference on mining held in Vancouver in the fall of 1996. At that conference, many industry representatives who had privately been critical of how government policy was deterring investment in the mineral rich province of British Columbia were reluctant to express those same views publicly. Any public criticism of government policy may have negative effects on projects already under way in a region. As a result, governments remain largely unaccountable for the impact of their actions, which can encourage, discourage, or in some cases virtually eliminate new exploration. To add to this problem, new exploration is an indicator of the future, not present health of the mining industry in a region. The effects of increasingly onerous, seemingly capricious regulations, uncertainty about land use, higher levels of taxation, and other policies will rarely be felt immediately as they are far more likely to deter companies looking for new projects than they are to shut down existing operations. The lack of accountability that stems from 1) the lag time between when policy changes are implemented and when economic activity is impeded and job losses occur and 2) industry's reluctance to be publicly critical of governments, is a cause of concern for those who would like to see a healthy future for the mining industry in their jurisdictions.
In order to address this problem and assess how various public policy factors influence companies' decisions to invest in different regions, The Fraser Institute began conducting an anonymous survey of senior and junior mining companies in 1997. The first survey included all Canadian provinces and territories. The second survey, conducted in 1998, included 17 US states, Mexico, and, for comparison with North American jurisdictions, Chile. This year's survey has been further expanded to include Argentina, Australia, Peru, Texas, and Nunavut.
Smart Mining Companies Emphasize Local Partnerships
North American Mining, Nov. 1997 vol.1 no.9
"The old paternalistic concept of mining acting as a surrogate government is dying. No one wants to live in a company town any more. Providing jobs simply isn't enough because many indigenous peoples don't want to become miners. Newly decentralized governments are shifting from a top-down approach to bottom-up decision-making, which emphasizes negotiation and defining and achieving local community objectives. ....
Mining's public awareness skills and understanding of participatory approaches remain woefully weak in comparison to other natural resource industries such as forestry and oil and gas. Even recent socio-economic agreements between mining companies and aboriginal communities seem somewhat less than visionary in achieving true partnership between the parties involved. Meanwhile, conflicts are still brewing between mining companies and local peoples in the state of Wisconsin in the United States, Irian Jaya in Indonesia, the provinces and territories of Canada, and states and territories in Australia....."
Troubled Times; Brighter Future
North American Mining,
Aug.t/Sept. 1998, vol.2 no.4
"Native title claims cloud mining's future on several continents, particularly in Australia and Canada. As the economy collapses in various nations, such as Indonesia, expectations of mining company paternalism is running rampant among aboriginal communities and local governments who expect mining to ante up more money to ease individual pain and suffering. Provincial governments are holding permits hostage until demands for jobs and services are met. Churches and charitable trusts are encouraging anti-mining activism through teh awarding of so-called "environmental justice" grants. Mining and exploration companies which balk at outrageous demands are accused of environmental racism. These comnpanies then wind up buried in an avalanche of appeals and litigation which, in turn, discourages project financing.
Meanhile, regulators chip away at mining's fiscal health by enacting policies eliminating tax deductions for exploration costs in Australia. The increasingly sophisticated political maneuvering by environmental special interest groups have made permitting a mine in Wisconsin an impossibility. Anti-mining initiatives have become an annual sporting event in Montana."
BARBARIANS AT THE GATES OF CYBERSPACE: Inside the Internet battle over the proposed Crandon Mine in Wisconsin
by Bob Webster
MINING VOICE, The magazine of
the National Mining Association Jan./Feb. 1998 v.4 no.1
Wisconsin, home to Harry Houdini, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and those ubiquitous "cheeseheads," has emerged as ground-zero for Internet activists intent on preventing a company from brining a new mine to life.
The permitting process for a mine is never easy, given the massive amounts of paperwork and numerous public hearings required before final approval of a mine's plan of operation is granted. The process is taking a new twist in Wisconsin where Internet activists have launched an all-out campaign to stop the proposed Crandon Mine.
The battle over the mine proposed near the tiny northern Wisconsin town of Crandon offers one of the first examples of how armchair activists are using the Internet to try to influence the permitting process and how a mining company can use the Internet in a positive, proactive manner.
When the Crandon permitting process began in 1993, the Internet had not caught fire with the general public. Although the Internet has been around since the late 1960s, it has largely been the domain of academics and government researchers. But all that changed just three short years ago when the first commercial service was offered to subscribers. Today, it is impossible not to see a "dot-com" whenever you pick up a newspaper or turn on a television.
Activists were quick to adapt their outreach programs to the power of the Internet, and it has become a favored tool--internationally, nationally, and locally--to infuriate, motivate, and invigorate individuals into action. A single e-mail message can be flashed to millions of readers worldwide urging "Immediate Action!!!".
Taking a page from the activist playbook, corporations are now beginning to learn how to use this new technology to showcase their positions and to answer incorrect statements made by their opponents....
...If all goes according to plan, the Crandon mine will begin construction in 2000. The proposed mine would encompass 550 acres, including the mine, mill, and all related facilities. The orebody contains 55 million tons of recoverable ore, primarily zinc and copper, with some small amounts of lead, silver, and gold. At an extraction rate of 5,500 tons of ore per day, the mine would be in operation for 28 years, with four years of reclamation. Long-term care is projected at more than 40 years. Company officials say the mine will employ 550 construction workers and 400 full-time mine operators.....
To Jay Vosters, the Crandon Mine means something else altogether. Vosters attends the University of Wisconsin's Stevens Point campus, where he has handed out postcards opposing the mine. He's set up booths and distributed petitions, too. Last October, he leaped into cyberspace and became an Internet activist by launching a simple Web page opposing the mine, which he believes will threaten the health of his children and the fish in nearby Lake Winnebago where he fished for walleye in the summer.
A quick search of the Internet shows that Vosters is not alone. There are nearly a dozen Web sites that have been launched by groups opposing the proposed mine, including such anti-mining activists as EarthWINS, the Menominee Nation and Wisconsin Stewardship Network. The Web pages posted by these groups share many of the same features and rhetoric, and all urge visitors to contact their legislators to oppose the mine. To make this contact easier, the activist groups have posted simple letters and even e-mail links that make the state house, Congress, or even the White House just a click away.
Vosters' site, simple called the Crandon Mine Issue, features a map of Wisconsin marked with a skull and crossbones and the words "Crandon Mine." His site is one of the featured links on the home page of the Menominee Nation, a Wisconsin-based Indian tribe actively protesting the proposed mine.
Like the members of the Menominee Nation and other Internet activists, Vosters says he wants to participate in the Crandon debate any way he can. "You'd be surprised at how many people don't know squat about the mine," Vosters says.....
Activists say the Internet has been useful in the Crandon debate because it allows activists in Madison and Milwaukee, both quite a distance from the proposed mine, to work closely with local residents near the proposed mine site to improve grassroots efforts.
Web pages are just one tool activists are using in the Crandon debate. In fact, the common Web page might be the least effective way to communicate in cyberspace. The Wisconsin Stewardship Network, which includes several statewide environmental groups, uses the Internet to hold weekly strategy sessions in online chat rooms.
Internet news groups, chat rooms, and electronic mailing lists buzz daily with news, rumors, and innuendo. News groups with names like "alt.actvism," sci.environment" and "wi.general" have carried messages about the proposed mine. If these names don't sound familiar to you by now, they most likely will in the near future because these are among the most active places for anti-mining activists to post their messages. "Part of the battle is just knowing where to look for information on the 'Net," one Internet observer says.
"It's very important to know what's going on on the Internet, agrees Mary Kay Grasmick, who in the past year has become a veteran of the cyberbattle surrounding the proposed mine. Grasmick is the public relations coordinator for Crandon Mining Co. and oversees the company's Web page. The mining company established an Internet presence about a year ago and continues to watch the Internet closely.
"We monitor the Internet all the time so we can now what is being said about us," Grasmick says, adding that activists often post their information on their home pages before they release it to local media. "If you are paying attention to the Internet it gives you a heads-up on what your opposition is doing."....
Grasmick and other Internet observers also have discovered what appears to be a wide gulf between mining supporters and opponents when it comes to Internet knowledge and use. "The people who are not supportive of mining are much more likely to use the Internet and to use it on a regular basis than are the people who support mining," Grasmick says....
An Internet presence helps develop a following for your issues and concerns within and beyond your immediate surroundings. And, as Grasmick and others have found, an Internet site with e-mail capabilities allows companies to build a database of e-mail addresses that can prove useful...
Although the Crandon mine is not alone on the receiving end of opposition by cyberactivists, it is one of the first domestic mining projects to go through the permitting phase in the age of the Internet. And it will not be the last. Activists are sure to employ the same techniques during the permitting of future mining projects. "If we play our cards right," says Internet activist Vosters, "we can be a model for others to follow."
ACTIVISTS MINE THE INTERNET
By Bob Webster
MINING VOICE The magazine of
the National Mining Association
July/Aug. 1997 v.3 no.4
What does the Western Environmental Law Center have in common with the Guyana Legal Defense Fund, EarthWINS, the Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki and Project Underground? All are on the Internet, and all oppose mining.....
EarthWINS, an organization "dedicated to stopping" the Crandon mine proposed in Wisconsin and other mining projects....(http://www.earthwins.com) offers a window into how environmental activists use the Internet. According to its web page, EarthWINS "supports individuals and groups working to prevent and stop unsafe mining in their neighborhoods." The organization offers free Web space and Web page design "for individuals, businesses, organizations, sports groups, local governments and Indian tribes working t help stop the proposed mines." The site features information about the proposed mines, a list of government contacts, links to Web sites of environmental activists and pro-industry sites.
2000 Fraser Institute rankings of states and provinces again shows Wisconsin near the bottom of mining industry attractiveness...
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