MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mining claims to impact rural real estate market

Published by MAC on 2007-07-23

Mining claims to impact rural real estate market

Prospecting Nearly 8,000 claims on private properties staked for uranium exploration

Daniel Martins, Telegraph-Journal

23th July 2007

A run on staking claims in the rural areas of southern New Brunswick could have a definite impact on real estate prices.

"It certainly wouldn't be having a good effect," said Don Ketchum, president of the New Brunswick Real Estate Association.

"I'll put it to you this way: If you were going to buy a property, and were looking for a nice summer place up in a place like Cambridge-Narrows, and you became aware of the possibility of an invasive procedure, like mining, to occur, you'd probably consider your options and look somewhere else."

Under the New Brunswick Mining Act, last amended 1985, all minerals beneath private property are owned by the Crown, and prospectors may stake claims on private property without warning owners first. The act obliges them to notify owners of the staking "as soon as possible."

Keeping mum about the tags when putting the property on the market won't help either. Ketchum says that, when putting a property on the market, owners are required to notify real estate agents of any potential issues with the property, and there is not much that can be done to alleviate those effects.

But Wade Wilson, a spokesman for the provincial Department of Natural Resources, says that if the years-long exploration process leads to a full-scale mining operation, the long-term effects on property values would be positive.

Wilson pointed to Friday's announcement of a new US$1.6-billion potash mine in the Sussex area, saying it would attract more than 600 tradespeople during construction, and 140 full-time jobs. He said there is already new construction going on in the area. "Is mining a contributor to that? I would say that it is," he said.

"I'm not a real estate expert, but I would think if I had property down (there) that I would be kind of smiling today if I felt like selling it at some point, because with increased development, property values are going to go up."

Ketchum reports that the southern New Brunswick real estate market has been bullish in recent years. Year-to-date property sales are in excess of $180 million, up from $120 million over same period last year.

So far this year, 1,295 properties have changed hands, compared to 1,020 in 2006.

The growth over that period coincides with a sharp spike in claim staking in the province, with 12,000 new claims this year alone, compared with only around 3,000 annually in past years. Around 8,000 of those claims are staked for possible uranium finds.

Ketchum wouldn't estimate the effect on real estate prices and sales in the area if the prospecting boom continues, saying that wouldn't be known for at least another 12 months.

"It's pretty safe to say that it's not going to have a positive effect," he said.

"The magnitude of any negative effects it might have would only be speculation"?"¦"?at this point. (But) it's not going to total up in the plus column, that's for sure."

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