Energy, mining approvals must be stepped up: Oliver

Federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY)

Federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY)

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 1:20 PM ET

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver's efforts to speed up the approvals process for major energy and mining projects is starting to sound more urgent.

"We're looking at some $500 billion in new investments over the next 10 years," Oliver told QMI Agency. "That's an immense amount of money."

The minister delivered two speeches Monday morning in Toronto, to the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce, and a Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention.

He reminded both audiences of the federal government's intention to streamline the approvals process, warning that the money on the table for investment in Canada's resources is at risk without it.

Oliver wouldn't commit to a specific time frame for how soon regulators should render a decision on a project beyond saying, "We want to create jobs in a couple of years, not in five or 10 years."

He also sidestepped questions on whether the new process would affect projects currently being reviewed, such as the Northern Gateway pipeline.

"I have no comment on what it will do to current projects," he said.

Still, the minister backed the creation of new infrastructure to flow Canada's oilsands to markets other than the United States.

"The prices that some of the commodities attract in the United States are considerably lower than the international prices," Oliver said. "So, it's crucially important for us to diversify to the Asia-Pacific amongst other areas, China being the largest, but there are other countries as well in Asia and, of course, Latin America."