The year 2014 has certainly been a challenging one for AME BC members, and this fact remained evident through the final months of the year. SNL Metals & Mining has reported this year to be the most challenging for global exploration since 2009, as just over $11 billion was forecast to be spent on projects in 2014, the second year-on-year decline. Furthermore, a lack of venture capital has led to limited grassroots exploration, not only globally but at home in British Columbia. Despite this reality, advanced exploration work in BC continues at historically high levels as many of the potential new mines, especially base and precious metals projects, in the province continue to attract significant investment and undertake major exploration work. As we look forward into 2015, AME BC will continue collaborating with the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada on investigating long-term solutions to the venture capital crisis within the Canadian securities framework and financial markets.
As an industry we have faced and overcome many challenges over the years. And as the lead association for mineral explorers and developers based in British Columbia, AME BC recognizes that these challenging times also provide opportunities to plan for the future and advocate for our members. Specifically, AME BC continued to actively participate in government consultations about proposed application fees for Mines Act permits into the fall. AME BC holds the position that prospecting and exploration activities should be exempt from any such fees because these activities produce no revenue for prospectors and explorers.
Also during the fall, AME BC submitted its budget recommendations to the provincial government, including the recommendation that the BC government rebuild the Ministry of Energy and Mines, by allocating an additional $10 million annually to address permitting and regulatory issues in a timely and effective manner; and increase the annual funding of the Geological Survey of BC to $4 million and Geoscience BC to $10 million to support enhanced public geoscience for mineral exploration and development as well as improved geotechnical and geohazard assessment in British Columbia.
We also participated with the BC government in Canadian Mineral Investment Forums in Shanghai and Beijing to share information about opportunities to invest in exploration and development projects in BC. In November, we accompanied BC Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett to the Alaska Miners Association conference in Anchorage to have discussions with commercial fishermen and other stakeholders about BC’s environmental assessment and permitting processes and to strengthen relationships between BC and Alaska.
Following AME BC’s advocacy and leadership work, we were pleased to hear the provincial government’s decision in December to proceed with the construction of the Site C dam and hydroelectric power generation project in northeastern British Columbia. Site C will produce low-cost, large-scale hydroelectric power for more than 100 years and attract investment in mineral exploration and development for multiple generations. The Site C project will ensure that mineral development projects throughout the province will have a reliable supply of low-cost, clean hydroelectric power. Ten potential mines in northwestern British Columbia, for example, would require 328 megawatts of electricity – a demand equivalent to approximately four per cent of the total electricity capacity of the province. Site C will have the capacity to produce 1100 megawatts of electricity.
Throughout the summer and fall, AME BC has been busy preparing for our Mineral Exploration Roundup 2015 conference, to be held in its new home under the Canada Place sails from January 26 to 29, 2015. The 32nd annual Roundup conference will feature many keynote speakers, including Clive Johnson from B2Gold, Stephen McIntosh from Rio Tinto, Bob Kelly from Teck and Chuck Jeannes from Goldcorp. As this our first convention at Canada Place, Roundup will also contain a number of new features, including:
- Discovery Day – a public outreach session and exhibits on Sunday, January 25, 2015;
- A four-day poster session along with student lunch-hour presentations;
- An expanded exhibit hall featuring many more junior exploration companies amongst the over 340 exhibitors; and
- Show Case Sessions that run from Monday through Thursday and feature line-ups of speakers focusing on Aboriginal relations; corporate social responsibility; health and safety; land access and use; and government-industry affairs.
AME BC also continued to host special events for members, including our Speaker Series event featuring Randy Smallwood, President and Chief Executive Officer of Silver Wheaton, our annual Christmas open house in November and our Leaders of Mineral Exploration and Development event in December with John Kaiser. Also note that in advance of Roundup 2015, AME BC will be opening the TSX markets in Toronto with Minister Bennett on January 15 and hosting a business luncheon at Toronto’s Board of Trade the same day.
On behalf of the staff and board of AME BC, I thank the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of members of the Association for their valuable support and contributions. Finally, please remember to have a safe day, every day, wherever this quarterly message finds you!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families!
Gavin C. Dirom, M.Sc., P. Ag.