March 3, 2011 / 1:29 PM / in 7 years

Alberta ranked as world's top mining jurisdiction

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian provinces still dominate a list of the world’s most attractive mining jurisdictions, with Alberta claiming the top spot, according to a Fraser Institute survey released on Thursday.

The survey, based on views of about 500 mining companies, measures the attractiveness of the mining policies implemented by governments across the globe.

Though a surge in metal prices has made miners more optimistic, many respondents said a growing trend of resource nationalism and new mining taxes are a cause for concern.

“I think for virtually every jurisdiction there is a feeling that things are getting worse, as opposed to better,” said Fred McMahon, co-author of the report.

The Fraser Institute released the report on Thursday, just ahead of the annual PDAC prospectors and developers convention in Toronto.

Higher taxes and new laws in some of the world’s most investor-friendly destinations such as Quebec, Nevada, Chile and Australia have weighed on the rankings of these locations, McMahon said.

Miners saw the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Nevada and Saskatchewan as jurisdictions with the most appealing mining policies, but Quebec and Manitoba also made it into the top 10.

“Alberta is at the top by default; other recent top contenders all have some minor black mark against them,” said McMahon. “Alberta has some mining, but it is not the world’s richest mining territory.”

Quebec, which ranked as the most mining friendly jurisdiction for the last three years fell out of favor last year when it announced tax increases and plans to rewrite its mining laws.

The survey includes data on 79 jurisdictions, including sub-national jurisdictions in Canada, the United States and Australia. This year it added Bulgaria, Greenland, Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar, Niger, Romania and Vietnam.

Miners found Honduras the least favorable mining jurisdiction, with Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo ranking only slightly higher. Others near the bottom of the list include Bolivia, India and Guatemala.

The world’s largest copper producer Chile, which also made it into the top ten, was by far the highest ranked jurisdiction in Latin America.

Botswana took the top African slot, ranking higher than gold mining hot spots like Burkina Faso and Mali.

“There’s one shining light in Africa and that’s Botswana,” said McMahon. “The other countries bounce around, but their overall average is about the same.”

McMahon said the annual survey, now in its 15th year, lets miners share their views on laws and practices in the various places in which they operate.

“The report is also really helpful for governments, which often times simply do not realize the impact of their policies,” said McMahon.

Colombia is the hottest new mining destination in the world, McMahon says. The country has emerged as a promising mining location nearly a decade after the government launched an offensive to end a long guerrilla conflict.

“Colombia is still ranked low in our survey and it will probably never hit the top, but miners are beginning to understand that Colombia has turned itself around and that there is lots of potential there,” he said.

Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Janet Guttsman

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