Summer marks the halfway point of the calendar year, and at AME BC, it marks the halfway point of the Association’s 2013-2017 Strategic Plan and Objectives, the guiding principles-based document and mandate for AME BC. Given the challenging times that our members have faced, this is a good time to reflect on the Association’s achievements and what more could be accomplished. With the support of AME BC members, we continue to work as the advocate for a successful and responsible mineral exploration and development industry based in British Columbia, and operating throughout the world. AME BC’s Strategic Plan focuses on six key priority areas that shape our industry advocacy work. I am pleased to highlight the following recent progress specific to those priority areas:
Successful Exploration: One of the best indicators of success in exploration is seeing a mineral discovery successfully move through permitting and into mine construction and production. Since June 2011, four mine projects in British Columbia have received environmental assessment certificates, and six mines have commenced production. And recently on June 29, JDS Silver was permitted to begin construction on their Silvertip (formerly Midway) Mine creating more family sustaining jobs for British Columbians and an economic boost to the Kaska Nations in northern BC.
Access to land is one of the fundamental requirements for mineral exploration and development, and during the spring AME BC members expressed concerns over the closure of the Canadian border crossing connecting Stewart, BC with Hyder, Alaska between 12 midnight and 8 AM effective April 1. AME BC engaged with the federal government to allow access to prospective areas of BC that are accessible by road only via Alaska. The solution was to install a telephone reporting system to allow for regular traffic while the border is unstaffed.
Clearly, mineral exploration and development require public policies and infrastructure that encourage, facilitate and support a successful industry. In addition to BC government tax incentives announced in January, the federal government extended the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit through March 2016 and expanded the eligibility of Canadian Exploration Expenses to include environmental studies and community consultation expenses incurred after February 2015. AME BC continues to advocate on its members’ behalf in areas such as land access and use and long term funding for public geoscience. On June 4, AME BC was pleased to hear the BC Government announce further funding support to Geoscience BC with a $5 million investment. Compared to other areas around the world, BC truly has a competitive edge with regard to its publicly available geoscience data that facilitates mineral exploration and development.
On June 25, AME BC and the Mining Association of British Columbia hosted an interactive investment luncheon at Toronto’s iconic Royal York hotel featuring the Honourable Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Dave Nikolejsin, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Energy & Mines as keynote speakers. Geoscience BC, Mining Suppliers Association of BC, Industry Council for Aboriginal Business, BC Geological Survey and the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation were contributing partners. The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) participated in the event as well.
Aboriginal Relations and Engagement: This past May, we released the revised edition of AME BC’s popular Aboriginal Engagement Guidebook. The revisions include guidance on the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in and Grassy Narrows decisions. We are optimistic that these decisions, together with our members’ efforts to engage Aboriginal communities respectfully and regularly, will increase certainty for the mineral exploration and development sector and drive future investment to create lasting opportunities that will benefit everyone. We have many positive examples in BC to showcase successful engagement between Aboriginal communities and the mineral exploration and development industry. Take a moment to check out AME BC’s new Guidebook at http://www.amebc.ca/docs/default-source/AE-Guidebook/aboriginal-engagement-guidebook-(revised-may-2015).pdf.
Public Awareness and Stakeholder Education: Throughout the spring, AME BC co-hosted the successful Mining Week Community Fair with MineralsEd and participated in local government conferences around the province to raise the profile of the industry and answer questions from elected officials about mineral exploration and development. AME BC is also directly funding the outreach of regional exploration groups to facilitate their efforts in engaging local communities throughout the province. As well, AME BC actively supported industry’s Mining for Miracles fundraising effort to raise over $1.83 million for BC Children’s Hospital in 2015.
Socially Responsible Exploration: AME BC’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee is sharing information about cost-effective ways that companies can use CSR to add value to their properties. AME BC is also a leader in developing and sharing the annual environment, health and safety survey that AME BC does in conjunction with the PDAC. Although the culture of safety within the mineral exploration and development industry has grown substantially in recent years, we can always improve. For example, all AME BC committee meetings now include a safety discussion, and we encourage all AME BC members to do the same – whether they are having a meeting in the office or in the field. See the following link for more safety information and guidelines: http://amebc.ca/policy/health-safety.
Membership Engagement: With thousands of individual and corporate members, AME BC has a strong, experienced and engaged membership. Recently, our staff and volunteers have actively connected with members at the PDAC, Kamloops Exploration Group and Minerals North conferences and hosted AME BC’s annual charity golf tournament to connect members and benefit MineralsEd. We continue to work with our Membership Liaison Committee to develop valuable programs and events that will provide learning and networking opportunities leading up to Mineral Exploration Roundup 2016.
Mineral Exploration Roundup: AME BC’s annual Mineral Exploration Roundup conference is the Association’s signature event. Accordingly, plans are well underway for the Mineral Exploration Roundup 2016 conference, “Innovation in Exploration”, to be held from January 25 to 28 at Canada Place in Vancouver. This coming Roundup will coincide with Cambridge House’s Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, which will allow for respective conference delegates to attend both events.
On behalf of the staff and board of AME BC, I thank you for your continued support as we strategically focus on key priority areas and advocacy work that builds a successful mineral exploration and development industry based in BC. I also wish you a safe day, every day, wherever this quarterly message finds you!
Gavin C. Dirom, M.Sc., P. Ag.
President & CEO
Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia