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Mining survey reveals top 20 global jurisdictions for companies to operate in

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By Robin Bromby - 

Three countries dominate the latest Fraser Institute global mining survey with Nevada, Western Australia and Saskatchewan taking out the top most favoured places to be exploring or mining.

The Toronto-based think tank’s annual ratings are closely watched for who’s up, who’s down — and who’s out the back door (this year that includes New Zealand and Indonesia).

The 2023 survey just released is based on surveys of mining professionals in 2022.

There was some juggling among the top-rated players.

Nevada took 1st place (up from third in 2021), Western Australia lost its top ranking and came in 2nd, while Saskatchewan dropped one slot to finish 3rd.

Some surprise highly rated places

Outside Australia, Canada and the US, the top jurisdiction was accorded to Botswana (10th place), Morocco came in at 16th and Argentina’s San Juan province slotted in at 19th.

Guyana is more attractive than New South Wales, Ecuador rates above Idaho, Victoria in Australia and California are less favoured than Guinea, while Tasmania just manages to beat Mongolia and Bolivia. Canada’s lowest rated jurisdictions are Nova Scotia and Northwest Territories (just heading off Mali).

No prizes for guessing those at the tail-end.

Zimbabwe takes out the wooden spoon for the second year in a row, rated worse that Mozambique (second worst), South Sudan and Angola.

Papua New Guinea is ninth from the bottom, although just beating the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Top 20 mining jurisdictions

So, here are the top 20 in Fraser’s Investment Attractiveness Index:

  1. Nevada (USA)
  2. Western Australia (Australia)
  3. Saskatchewan (Canada)
  4. Newfoundland & Labrador (Canada)
  5. Colorado (USA)
  6. Northern Territory (Australia)
  7. Arizona (USA)
  8. Quebec (Canada)
  9. South Australia (Australia)
  10. Botswana
  11. Alaska (USA)
  12. Ontario (Canada)
  13. Queensland (Australia)
  14. Manitoba (Canada)
  15. British Columbia (Canada)
  16. Morocco
  17. Utah (USA)
  18. Montana (USA)
  19. San Juan (Argentina)
  20. Yukon (Canada)

Explorers take slightly different view

Fraser also publishes its Policy Perception Index, which reflects more the exploration (as opposed to mining viewpoint) companies.

It seeks views more on regulatory matters that affect companies exploring, rather than overview of all of a jurisdiction’s factors.

Nevada again comes in tops, but Botswana is second, followed by South Australia, Utah, Newfoundland/Labrador and Alberta. New Brunswick jumps to 8th place.

Zimbabwe manages to take the bottom slot again, with Guinea in second-last spot — and PNG sixth worst.

The non-raters

If the Fraser Institute gets fewer than five company responses for any jurisdiction, then those countries/states/provinces are out the back door.

After all, such poor responses suggest a weak mining sector or lack of interest by those companies there.

There’s a long list: no surprises that Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Panama and Tajikistan were out.

But six Argentine provinces were dropped, as were Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines, New Zealand, as well as Wyoming (where we know of several exploration or mining operations).

If operations involved in Zimbabwe can manage sufficient responses, then those more numerous players in Indonesia can play their part.

As stated by Fraser Institute, the survey is designed to identify the jurisdictions that have the most attractive policies for encouraging investment in mining.

“Jurisdictions that investors assess as relatively unattractive may therefore be prompted to consider reforms that would improve their ranking,” the firm notes.

This latest survey was distributed to 1,966 managers and executive around the world.