Sweden squeezes past Finland as top mining locale

March 3 Mon Mar 3, 2014 11:02am EST

March 3 (Reuters) - Nordic countries Sweden and Finland again topped an annual ranking of the world's best jurisdictions for miners to operate, beating out Canada for the second year in a row.

Sweden, which placed second last year, moved to the top of the list, while last year's top jurisdiction, Finland, slipped to second place, according to a report released on Monday by the Fraser Institute.

Based on a survey of 690 mining and exploration companies, the 2013 study looked at whether mining policies in 112 jurisdictions around the world encouraged investment.

The report praised the two northern European nations as proof that jurisdictions can have a rigorous permitting process, while still remaining business friendly. Neighboring Norway was 10th on the list.

"The confidence mining executives have in Sweden and Finland, for example, proves that it's possible to enact sound environmental protections and still maintain a successful mining industry," said Kenneth Green, the institute's senior director of energy and natural resources, in a statement.

Alberta was the highest-ranked Canadian province, taking the No. 3 spot, with companies praising its transparent and productive approach to mining policy.

Alberta "offers competitive taxation regimes, sound legal systems and relatively low uncertainty around land claims. That's what miners look for," said Green.

Canadian jurisdictions again fared well, with New Brunswick and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Alberta in the top 10. Quebec, which topped the list from 2007 to 2009, slipped 10 spots to 21st, reflecting changes to its mining act and tax policies since the Parti Quebecois displaced the Liberals as the province's government in late 2012.

Other jurisdictions in the top 10 included the U.S. states of Wyoming and Nevada, along with Ireland and Western Australia.

Kyrgyzstan ranked as the least attractive location for investment, according to the survey. Canadian gold miner Centerra Gold Inc is in the midst of a long-running battle with the Central Asian nation over the ownership of its flagship Kumtor project, which accounted for about 12 percent of the country's GDP in 2011.

The Fraser Institute, a think tank that typically advocates lighter government regulation, releases its rankings each year at the start of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention.

This year's PDAC convention kicked off on Sunday in Toronto.

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