Mining is a key industry in Manitoba.The key to the future of the mining industry is to invest in exploration. That is exactly what we are doing in Manitoba.Recently our provincial government announced that we will provide $1.1 million from this year's first offering of the Mineral Exploration Assistance Program (MEAP) for 25 mineral exploration projects generating about $12.7 million in expenditures,This includes three new companies that have been attracted to explore in Manitoba for the first time.
What is encouraging is the degree that we are seeing significant private sector investment in exploration at a time when metal prices are below recent peak levels. Total company spending on exploration in the province for 2009 is forecasted at $77.4 million, which is well above the 10-year average of $52.2 million.
MEAP plays a significant role in attracting companies to the province. Historically every MEAP dollar in support returns just over nine dollars in company spending for exploration in Manitoba.
MEAP was recently renewed for an additional three years starting with the April 2008 offering and will offer $2.5 million of assistance annually through two offerings per year. Under MEAP, assistance is available up to 25 per cent of approved eligible expenses to a maximum of $300,000.There are higher levels of assistance, up to 35 per cent to a maximum of $400,000, to encourage exploration in under-explored frontier regions and to help sustain mining communities such as Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids and Snow Lake.
How important is MEAPto Northern Manitoba? Ten of the 25 projects are in the Lynn Lake/Leaf Rapids, Snow Lake and northern areas including the Far North, Northern Superior and the Hudson Bay Lowland. These projects could lead to both new mines and renewed mining in communities such as Lynn Lake and Leaf Rapids.How important is mining? The mineral industry is the second largest primary resource industry in Manitoba. In 2008, the combined value of mineral production for metals ($1.55 billion), industrial minerals ($141 million) and petroleum ($831 million) totalled $2.5 billion. The province's mineral industry employs about 5,200 workers directly with another 18,000 in spin-off jobs.What do Manitoba mines produce? Base and precious metals, such as nickel, copper, zinc and gold. Specialty minerals like lithium and cesium. industrial minerals such as dolomite, spodumene, silver, gypsum, salt, granite, limestone, peat, lime, sand and gravel.
What is the mining potential in the future? Manitoba mineral resources with potential for future economic development include diamonds, platinum group metals (PGM), rare earth elements (REE), titanium, vanadium, chromite, silica and potash.
The key is to the future of our mining sector is ensure we have a competitive mining industry and to develop partnerships with Northern and Aboriginal communities. It all starts with investing in exploration. That is exactly what is happening in Northern Manitoba.