Help Us Protect BC’s Mineral Lands for Exploration

Cutting to the core of mineral exploration, Core Matters gives you an inside look at the most important topics in our industry.

Help Us Protect BC’s Mineral Lands for Exploration

November 1, 2015

Situation
Help us protect BC’s mineral lands for exploration. AME believes that it is possible to have both a strong mineral exploration and development industry and a healthy environment. However, based on many inconsistent government land use decisions over the last few years, access to large areas of BC for mineral explorers is eroding. This is contrary to earlier policy pronouncements by government and public land use plan commitments.

Sustained investment in exploration is the only path to successfully discovering and developing new mineable deposits that are so vital to our quality of life in BC. Responsible mineral development spurs positive regional socio-economic development, provides thousands of family sustaining careers, produces the commodities we need and use every day and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars every year to support education and health care. British Columbia is vast, underexplored and has significant mineral development potential. But minerals are a hidden natural resource, and explorers require time and reasonable access to large tracts of land with mineral development potential in order to discover that very rare and special deposit that may be economically viable. Without ongoing exploration and discoveries, there will no longer be new mines constructed in BC. The cornerstones of a successful and sustainable mineral exploration and development industry are:

  • Access to large tracts of land to conduct temporary, low-impact exploration for valuable mineral resources;
  • Ability to acquire secure mineral tenure; and
  • The opportunity to advance and develop a viable mineral resource project under appropriate legislation
What’s really happening 
Sub-surface mineral resources in BC are owned and administered by the Crown and managed in the public’s socio-economic and strategic interest, for the greater good of every citizen of British Columbia. The problem is that too much of the public’s mineral-rich lands are needlessly becoming de-facto parks without properly assessing the lost socio-economic opportunities and benefits. Currently, almost 18% of BC is closed to mineral exploration and development through parks, protected areas, and other designations, and an additional 33% is subject to significant and unreasonably restrictive conditions on mineral exploration. The provincial government introduced a two-zone land use system in 2002 for exploration and mining activities in order to provide certainty regarding access to land for mineral exploration and potential development. In theory, the two-zone system establishes that exploration and development are acceptable (subject to reasonable laws that regulate these activities) throughout the province (the mineral zone) except for parks, ecological reserves and lands where exploration and mining are prohibited (the protected zone).
What action AME is taking

AME is currently addressing specific land access and use restrictions within the following areas of BC: the central and north coast, northwest, south Chilcotin, areas southeast of Prince George and the south Okanagan. Access restrictions include not allowing prospecting and exploration activities to banning motorized vehicles and re-classifying land use in large areas such as the: Great Bear Rainforest, Todagin Wildlife Management Plan area, Ancient Forest Reserve, Telkwa Wildlife Habitat area, Nadina Wildlife Habitat Area and Ungulate Winter Range, and Cranberry Sustainable Resource Management Plan. Before restricting access for prospecting, exploration or potential development on any mineral-rich lands in BC, AME recommends that the BC Government:

  • Assess the mineral development potential;
  • Properly consider the lost socio-economic activities and benefits;
  • Fund the long-term renewal of mineral development potential mapping to support BC’s two-zone land access and use policy; and
  • Assess the potential negative impacts and unintended consequences to the mineral exploration and development industry of overly restrictive and unreasonable legislative or regulatory changes.

Action that you or your organization can take
Help us protect BC’s mineral lands for exploration. The government of British Columbia needs to consult the industry and public more widely and commit to a reasonable two-zone system that clearly outlines both a mineral zone and protected zone for the benefit of all British Columbians and potential investors. AME members, friends and partner organizations are encouraged to support AME’s call to action and recommendations to protect BC’s mineral lands for exploration by writing to the Premier of British Columbia at premier@gov.bc.ca.