New Brunswick is ranked as the world’s most attractive jurisdiction for mineral exploration and development in the Fraser Institute’s Survey of Mining Companies: 2011/2012, released February 23, 2012. “New Brunswick shot to the top of the rankings as miners lauded the province for its fair, transparent, and efficient legal system and consistency in the enforcement and interpretation of existing environmental regulations,” said Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute vice president of international policy research and coordinator of the survey.

Quebec, which enjoyed a three-year reign at No. 1 in the survey from 2007 to 2010, continued to lose support among mining executives as it fell to fifth place from fourth in 2011. “Quebec’s reputation floundered over the past two years due to uncertainty around royalty increases and proposed changes to the provincial mining act. Miners prefer to do business in New Brunswick and Alberta, where mining policy is clear and the government resource-friendly,” McMahon said.

The Fraser Institute’s 2011/2012 survey is based on the opinions of mining executives representing 802 mineral exploration and development companies on the investment climate of 93 jurisdictions around the world. New additions this year include Missouri, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guyana, Laos, Mauritania, Morocco, Poland, Suriname and eight provinces of Argentina. The companies participating in the survey reported exploration spending of $6.3 billion in 2011, up from $4.5 billion in 2010.

Worldwide, the top 10 jurisdictions in the survey are New Brunswick, Finland, Alberta, Wyoming, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Sweden, Nevada, Ireland and the Yukon. Seven of the same jurisdictions ranked among the top 10 last year. Newcomers are New Brunswick, Ireland and the Yukon. Manitoba, Utah and Chile fell out of the top 10.

Chile had been the only jurisdiction outside of North America to consistently rank among the top 10 since the inception of the survey. Sweden and Finland have now been in the top 10 for the past three years.

The bottom 10 scores went to Vietnam, Indonesia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, India, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras.

This year, 68% of respondents said they expected to increase their exploration budgets in 2012, compared with 82% who had plans to hike their exploration budgets a year ago. (