CALGARY, Alberta — Nevada moved to the top spot in 2018 as the most attractive jurisdiction in the world for mining investment, according to the Annual Survey of Mining Companies by the Fraser Institute, an independent, nonpartisan Canadian policy think-tank.
“The mining survey — now in its 21st year — is the most comprehensive report card on government policy decisions that either attract or scare away investors from around the world,” said Kenneth Green, resident scholar and chair of the Fraser Institute’s energy and environmental studies and co-author of the report.
The jurisdictions in the top 10, from first through tenth place, are Nevada, Western Australia, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Alaska, Chile, Utah, Arizona, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.
This year, Venezuela replaced Guatemala as the least attractive jurisdiction for mining investment. Also in the bottom 10, beginning with the worst, are Neuquen, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, China, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, La Rioja, and Bolivia.
The overall Investment Attractiveness Index is constructed by combining the Best Practices Mineral Potential index, which rates regions based on their geologic attractiveness, and the Policy Perception Index, a composite index that measures the effects of government policy on attitudes toward exploration investment.
The Policy Perception Index measures the attractiveness of a jurisdiction based on factors such as regulations, taxation levels, the quality of infrastructure, and the other policy-related issues. Respondents indicate that approximately 40 percent of their investment decisions are determined by policy factors.
“The evidence is clear — mineral deposits alone are not enough to attract precious commodity investment dollars,” said Ashley Stedman, a senior policy analyst at the Fraser Institute and study co-author. “A sound regulatory regime coupled with competitive fiscal policies is key to making a jurisdiction attractive in the eyes of mining investors.”
For 2018, Nevada ranked number one on the Investment Attractiveness Index, number one on the Best Practices Mineral Potential Index, and number two on the Policy Perception Index, behind Saskatchewan.
Nevada always ranks high on the Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey, but usually is not right near the top in all three indexes. The way investors view the state for its mineral potential and its policies toward mining have both improved in the last several years, according to the survey.
In 2017, Nevada ranked in third place overall, eighth in mineral potential, and fifth in policy perception. In 2016, Nevada was fourth overall, eighth in mineral potential, and fifth in policy perception. In 2015, Nevada was third overall, sixth in mineral potential, and sixth in policy perception. In 2014, Nevada was in first place overall, second in mineral potential, and tenth in policy perception.
In the 2018 survey, the president of an exploration company commented that in Nevada “the procedures for submitting a Notice of Intent, calculating reclamation costs, and posting exploration bonds are clear and efficiently administered.”
When survey respondents were asked the amount of time they expected to spend getting the permits, licenses, notices of work or other items needed to conduct exploration activities in Nevada, 52.6 percent said two months or less, 31.6 percent said three to six months, 10.5 percent said seven to 10 months, and 5.3 percent said 11 to 14 months. Only Saskatchewan and Alaska had a bigger percentage of respondents saying they expected to get their permits in less than six months.
When respondents were asked how often Nevada met its own established timelines for permit approval decisions, 38.9 percent said most of the time, 33.3 percent said some said of the time, 16.7 percent said about half of the time, and 11.1 percent said less than half of time. Nevada ranked better than most of the jurisdictions on this question.
When respondents were asked how the level of transparency in the permitting process affects exploration investment in Nevada, 42.1 percent said it encourages investment, 31.6 percent said it is not a deterrent to investment, 21.1 percent said it is a mild deterrent to investment, and 5.3 percent said it is a strong deterrent to investment. Again, Nevada ranked better than most on this question.
Nevada, Saskatchewan, Alaska, Quebec, and Sweden were the only jurisdictions where all respondents said they were confident they would eventually be granted the necessary permits.
This year’s survey of mining executives ranks 83 jurisdictions around the world. The survey was circulated electronically to about 2,600 individuals. The Fraser Institute received 291 responses, providing sufficient data to evaluate 83 jurisdictions.