Address by Minister Fantino: Mining Association of Canada Board of Directors meeting

June 19, 2013 - Ottawa

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Good morning, everyone.

Thank you for the invitation to be here today.

I wish that I could have joined you for dinner last night, but unfortunately, Parliament called!

There was a time when most would have questioned what message the Minister of International Cooperation could possibly bring to a group like this.

The answer to that question has not always been obvious.

I am pleased that perhaps now more than ever, it has become increasingly clear.

There are very real links that exist between Canada's international effort to help people living in poverty, and the collaboration and partnership with the Canadian extractive industry.

For our part, the Government of Canada's priority is to reduce poverty and deliver tangible results for those most in need around the world.

We are unwavering in our pursuit of this objective, and will explore all potential partnerships and innovative ideas that will allow us to get there.

That is where you come in.

Poverty alleviation depends on sustainable economic growth.

Few are better positioned to stimulate such growth than the private sector companies that operate and invest in areas of the developing world.

In 2011, exports of oil and minerals from Africa, Asia, and Central and South America were worth over $1.4 trillion.

This is more than ten times the value of international development assistance provided to the developing world in the same year.

This has translated into jobs and improved livelihoods for millions of people.

Going back to 2010, the formal mining sector employed more than two millionpeople in the developing world.

And an estimated twenty-five millionworked in informal and small-scale mining.

With a wave of developing countries expected to become important resource consumers in the coming decade, trends show that these numbers will keep increasing.

So a responsibly managed extractive sector can be a game changer, and in some areas, it already has.

It can drive sustainable economic growth, lead to more gainful employment, and provide more resources for families and communities that are currently struggling.

Many resource-rich countries lack the governance, infrastructure, and technical capacity to tap the full potential of their natural resources.

This is an obstacle that their populations need to deal with and benefit from.

That is why Canada is working with developing-country governments to build their capacity to govern their natural resources in a sustainable and responsible way.

This is the only foundation upon which an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable resource sector can build its future.

Last month, in Peru, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a series of Canadian investments in development initiatives.

These initiatives will help the country take full advantage of its natural resource wealth.

Specifically, these investments will help strengthen environmental impact assessments in Peru's extractive sector.

It will also improve the management of natural resources at the regional level, and diversify economic opportunities in extractive regions.

All of which will benefit Peruvians who live in or near mining communities.

Also, the Prime Minister more recently announced that Canada will lead the G-8 partnership with Peru and Tanzania.

This will help increase transparency and strengthen governance in their respective oil, gas and mining sectors.

Canada will work with governments, civil society, and companies in both Peru and in Tanzania to:

  • improve regulatory oversight;
  • have tax and audit coordination and transparency; and
  • manage royalties that local and regional governments collect from extractive companies.

Increased transparency in the disclosure of payments can result in greater accountability, reduced corruption and better integrity, which, in turn, can provide improved investment certainty for Canada's mining companies.

It will also help more Peruvians and Tanzanians reap the rewards of increased economic activity.

This could lead to improved public services such as education and badly needed health care.

These are among the many reasons why Canada is also one of the largest supporters of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

This initiative helps to improve the accountability of the revenue received by governments from the extractive industry.

These are also the reasons why the Prime Minister just announced new measures on resource revenue reporting and the disclosure of the same.

Our government understands the importance of transparency in creating an ethical business environment.

We also recognize the importance of clearly illustrating the investments made by extractive companies supporting social and economic development.

Combined, these measures help to underpin Canada's reputation as a strong international partner.

It reinforces our view that private sector involvement in international development is an effective way to lift millions of people out of poverty.

As an extractives success story, Canada is ideally positioned to help developing countries overcome their challenges and implement their vision for this rapidly evolving sector.

The new Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development is an example of how we are taking a leadership role in helping developing countries manage their extractive sectors.

This centre will bring together the best expertise in Canadian government, the private sector, and academic and civil society under one roof.

The institute will provide developing countries with the support they need to manage and govern their natural resources responsibly.

Developing countries will then be able to generate the substantial revenues required to support their people. 

I understand that Bern Klein, head of the University of British Columbia's mining engineering school and acting executive director of the institute, is here.

I know everyone looks forward to hearing from him shortly.

Considering our wealth of experience in natural resource management, Canada is well-positioned to help developing countries maximize the benefits from their extractive sectors.

We can also assist in ensuring that these benefits flow to their people in ways that improve their overall quality of life.

We are committed to reaching this goal with governments in developing countries, the private sector, civil society, and other relevant partners.

In the developing world, sustainable economic growth and long-term development strategies are key components for ensuring that women and men have opportunities for a future without poverty.

With more developing countries seeing the extractive sector as a vehicle for driving economic growth, we all play a role in helping to open the window to a world of possibility.

This is why Canada is focusing on growing economies more sustainably, managing resources more responsibly, and working more closely with the private sector.

I truly believe that with the right partnerships and a focus on sustainable economic growth, Canada can—as it has done—lead the way.

We can ensure that the extractive sector will help build a more prosperous, safe, and just world.

Thank you.