Seabridge gold says its proposed Kerr- Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine project in northern British Columbia is one of the largest undeveloped gold mines in the world. It estimates there are at least 32 million ounces of gold and some 9 million ounces of copper.

And before any of that metal can be extracted, Seabridge must build roads and facilities, among them, a pair of 23kmlong tunnels to transport ore. These will both be in two sections, 16km- and 7km-long, with a short section of road between them, as well as cross passages. Approval of the EA/ EIS Application is expected by mid-2014.

The KSM project is one of the many that is, or will be, generating Canada’s booming market for natural resources. It is a market that has helped the country achieve a quicker recovery from the global economic downturn, compared to other developed nations. And it’s a market that provides a healthy stream of income from exporting energy to the US.

And finally, KSM paints the picture of exactly how vital the relationship is between Canada’s industries for infrastructure and natural resources.

Banking and Building
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, Canada’s overall infrastructure ranks 15 out of a list of 144 global economies.

"Canada needs infrastructure development to support its booming mining industry, which was a key contributor in the country recording a quick recovery from the economic crisis," the report states.

The relationship between the mining and tunnelling industries is more symbiotic than is acknowledged by economics alone. Tunnels North America will take an in-depth look at the mining industry and its market potential for the tunnelling industry in the August 2014 issue. And the TAC 2014 Conference "Tunnelling in a Resource Driven World" to be held in Vancouver this October will explore tunnelling for mining, for pipelines, in glacial deposits and in remote locations and extreme climates, among other topics in the technical sessions.

In 2012, Canadian Oil and Gas invested CAD 62bn (USD 55.8bn) in capital spending, and paid CAD 18bn (USD 16bn) in taxes and royalties, according to The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).

In Alberta, the energy sector (oil and gas and mining) accounted for more than 22 per cent of the province’s GDP in 2012. Royalties from the oil sands totalled CAD 3.56bn (USD 3.2bn) in 2012-13, part of which helps funds public services. Alberta says it expects CAD 350bn in royalties and CAD 122bn (USD 110bn) in provincial and municipal tax revenue from the oil sands over the next 25 years. "Every dollar invested in the oil sands creates about CAD 8 [USD 7.2] worth of economic activity, onethird of which occurs outside Alberta’s borders – in Canada, the U.S. and around the world."

Canada’s federal government established its Building Canada plan in 2007, which included a fund for infrastructure for seven years to the tune of CAD 8.8bn. Projects range from the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE), which saw CAD 622M (USD 560M) from the fund, to building new fire stations and community centres.

Not surprisingly, Canada is expecting to see the value of its construction market continue grow. The infrastructure construction market accounted for 39.7 per cent of the Canadian construction industry output in 2012, valuing CAD 111.6bn (USD 112.9bn), according to Timetric. It’s the second largest sector, with residential construction valued at USD 113bn (see Figures 1 and 2). The market analyst firm also expects the infrastructure market to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.42 per cent to value CAD 138.6bn (USD 140.2bn) by 2017 (Figure 1).

With the Building Canada plan set to expire this year a new plan surfaced in 2013 for another 10 years of funding, starting in 2014-15. Under the new Building Canada plan CAD 53.5bn (USD 48.2bn) will be made available to build public infrastructure in cooperation with provinces, territories and municipalities.

CAD 6bn (USD 5.4bn) of the money comes from the federal government for existing infrastructure programs that will be paid out in the period starting 2014-15. Most of the funding is from the Community Improvement Fund, which comprises the indexed Gas Tax Fund and the incremental GST Rebate for Municipalities to build roads, public transit, recreational facilities and other community infrastructure. The New Building Canada fund is worth CAD 14bn (USD 12.6bn), for "major economic infrastructure projects that have a national, regional and local significance." And there is a final CAD 1.25bn USD 1.13bn) for the Renewed P3 Canada Fund (see Figure 3).

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled the 10-year plan in the 2013 Federal Budget last April. The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) called it a major step for planning and developing public transit in Canadian communities.

"Never before has a federal government invested so much in public transit," said Michael Roschlau, president and CEO of CUTA. "This budget provides a solid framework to ensure that this will continue."

He adds, "the introduction of a Community Improvement Fund, a new Building Canada Fund, a renewed P3 Canada Fund and indexation of the existing Gas Tax Fund, all of which include public transit, provides a balanced cross-section of investment opportunities to renew and build public transit and mobility options for Canadians. The new Building Canada Plan is a critical step toward a long-term transit vision."

Alternate exports
Currently, about 30 per cent of Canada’s oil production and 37 per cent of the country’s gas production is consumed internally, while most of the remainder is exported to the US.

That market is changing as the US is working to become a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and achieve self-sufficiency in energy by 2035.

According to Timetric, Canada’s complete dependence on the US for its energy exports is a major threat to the country’s energy security, but it will stay in the black. "Canada aims to diversify its energy export markets, and proposed constructions will focus on this. The category is expected to record a CAGR of 4.33 per cent over the forecast period and value CAD 34.6bn (USD 35bn) by 2017."

CAPP highlights that global demand for energy is expected to rise during that same period, by as much as 35 per cent by 2035. Forecasts see economies in both developed and emerging countries continuing to grow and the standard of living improve in the developing world to create this demand.

Meanwhile the International Energy Agency has said the world will need to invest USD 37tr in energy supplies from 2011 to 2035.