The global mineral exploration and development industry has been experiencing a significant downturn, and British Columbia and the rest of Canada are not immune to this reality. Despite the challenges this presents, the industry (much of it based in B.C.) continues to make enormous contributions to the social and economic well-being of British Columbians and fellow Canadians. The mineral exploration industry is central to B.C.’s export driven economy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue for government to offset rising health care, education and infrastructure costs. Such contributions should not be taken for granted. Despite the current downturn, policy-makers must take concrete steps now to position the industry for future success.
Even with a reduction in the total number of companies listed, British Columbia continues to host 59 per cent of the mineral exploration and mining companies listed on the TSX-V and the TSX exchanges. Aside from low commodity prices, the companies surviving the current downturn continue to be faced with challenges, such as:
- excessive securities regulations and costs to keep a public company listed and to attract investment or financing; and
- increased costs to explore and develop mineral resources, often due to unreasonable restrictions or delays related to permitting, environmental assessments and community engagement.
Given these challenges and Canada’s new federal government, this is a critical time for AME to champion innovation, investment and research in B.C.’s mineral exploration and development industry, and to strengthen and reinforce strategic connections between government, First Nations, business and industry leaders. First Nation perspectives and provincial and federal government policies must be aligned to ensure that B.C continues to attract investment in mineral exploration and development.
AME believes that it is possible to have both a strong mineral exploration and development industry and a healthy environment. Without minerals and metals we will not achieve the vision of a greener future. Copper, for example, has a major role in the generation and distribution of electrical power and is needed for cleaner energy technologies. Copper is essentially the green metal of the future, making electricity and innovative technologies, communication systems and transportation networks possible. And B.C. has a lot of copper and other critical metals and minerals to offer Canada and the world.
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. 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 B.C. and across Canada.
Following the federal election, AME congratulated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of the new federal cabinet. This is an opportune time for everyone to reflect on the importance of championing the investment, exploration and mineral development potential of British Columbia to all Canadians. Specifically, AME is advocating for the following:
- Ensuring an effective and efficient environmental assessment and permitting process;
- Maintaining mineral exploration tax incentives and improving access to venture capital;
- Supporting Aboriginal skills training and clarifying government’s duty to consult and industry’s role in aboriginal engagement; and
- Funding of targeted geoscience initiatives and continuing research and innovation in mineral exploration techniques and processes.
Key cabinet ministers for the B.C.-based mineral exploration and development sector include the Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs; the Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance; the Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General; the Hon. Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources; the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; and the Hon. MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. Along with partner industry associations (such as the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada, Mining Association of Canada and the Mining Association of B.C.) we will be arranging meetings with these Ministers as well as local Members of Parliament over the coming months to advance AME’s advocacy priorities listed above.
AME members, friends and partner organizations are encouraged to support AME’s advocacy efforts with the new federal government. Review the attached Canadian Mineral Industry Federation submission, Weathering the Storm – A Brief to the 72nd Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference, presented in Halifax, Nova Scotia in July 2015; get in touch with your newly elected MP and continue the conversation along with other AME members in our online forum. Click here to enter the online forum and use password amebc (all lower case).