President & CEO’s Message
Gavin C. Dirom M.Sc., P. Ag. President & CEO, AME
As many of you know, AME celebrates its 100th anniversary on April 23, 2012. The theme of “Celebrating our First Century of Global Discovery” at Mineral Exploration Roundup 2012 gave us the opportunity to reflect on how AME – the industry, and BC as a whole – have evolved over the past century. Today, the word is out that British Columbia is a great place to headquarter your company and to look for, and develop, new mineral deposits. There are now more than 1,200 mineral exploration and mining companies based in the province. And with $463 million spent in 2011, last year made history as a record breaker for mineral exploration expenditures in BC. The record 8,320 participants at Roundup also demonstrate that British Columbia is indeed a centre of excellence for global mineral exploration and development.
As we prepare for the May 2013 provincial election, and as your industry advocacy association, AME will focus on three areas in 2012 to help make BC an even better place to “explore for more”. The first, and most fundamental area, is the issue of having access to land to explore, discover and develop mineral resources. To support this, AME will be developing and widely sharing information that shows the actual impact of land use designations in the province. We will also lead discussions with government about issues such as the proposed Natural Resources Roads Act and fair market value compensation for tenure holders where parks or de-facto parks are created.
Secondly, permitting challenges and aboriginal relations are critical areas of concern for our members. As such, we will continue to work with government to be more consistent in their efforts to coordinate and improve permitting processes and consultation timelines with aboriginal communities. As part of this continuing effort, we will help government to implement an on-line permit tracking information system for notice of work applications and support the new major projects and investment initiatives announced by Premier Clark last fall. And this past quarter, AME continued to strengthen relations with the BC First Nation Energy and Mining Council and the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business to enhance mutual understanding of mineral exploration and development opportunities.
Thirdly, as people active in the industry, you understand that minerals are a public resource and that the discovery of a mineable deposit is a rare and tremendous opportunity. In our own self-interest and in the public interest, we must all work to establish a deeper appreciation and a more common understanding of the value of minerals to everyone’s daily lives. As such, outreach and education will continue to be the other major area of AME’s focus in 2012 in the effort to increase the public and government’s understanding and support for low impact mineral exploration. And we will work closely with regional groups throughout the province to enhance their community outreach efforts, and more locally, we will be hosting AME’s Exploration Days at the Britannia Mine Museum from April 19 to 21. Recently, AME members and staff have hosted and attended many conferences – in particular, the 25th annual Kamloops Exploration Group conference, local government association conferences in BC, AME’s Speaker Series featuring Vivian Krause, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s convention in Toronto. Soon, as partners in mining, we look forward to celebrating BC’s Mining Week as hosts of the Community Fair on May 16 and actively supporting the Minerals North conference in Burns Lake on May 23.
As well, we will continue reaching out far and wide to help design a new five-year AME strategic plan for 2013-2017; building upon outreach that began with the industry survey and AME’s third annual Policy Forum held during Roundup 2012. In addition, AME’s 100th anniversary commemorative book, Into the Mountains, will be available to members as well as community libraries and schools in the coming months.
It’s clear that BC’s mineral wealth has led to the natural development of a large talent pool in the areas of prospecting, geoscience, engineering, environmental stewardship, technology innovation and more. This province has become a world renowned centre of excellence in mineral exploration and development. We should be proud of what we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish in these challenging fields. I have no doubt that the industry will attract new energetic, bright and hardworking people, and will continue to develop partnerships with educational institutions that will build lasting technical, legal, financial and public policy capacity for many generations to come.
Over its 100-year history, the Association has brought together many diverse elements within the mineral exploration and development sector – which has contributed strength to the industry during some very challenging times. Indeed, the year 2012 did start off in an upbeat fashion, but as of late many members of AME are now reporting difficulties in raising venture capital, facing lower prices for commodities and seeing a slowdown of Asian economies. This may result in less exploration work proposed in BC this year by junior and mid-tier companies. Thankfully, this possible outcome may be offset by the fact that many major mining companies have returned to BC in the last two years and their exploration programs, many with joint venture partners, will be going ahead as planned in 2012.
Undeniably, challenges certainly do exist to discover the mineral riches hidden beneath the earth, to move projects forward in timely manner and to develop profitable mines to the net benefit of all. It’s clear that balancing the interests of society and our collective need for using minerals in our daily lives, while respecting the environment and operating safely, are not mutually exclusive goals. It can be done, and in fact, it must be done in order to be responsible stewards of the mineral resources.
On behalf of the staff and board of AME, I thank all the volunteers and the 4,800 members of the Association for their valuable contributions in making AME one of the best industry advocacy associations for mineral exploration and development in the world. Finally, as we continue celebrating 100 years strong as an Association in 2012, please remember to have a safe day, every day, wherever this message finds you!
Gavin C. Dirom, M.Sc., P. Ag.
President & CEO, AME