Due to global economic factors and market uncertainties beyond their control, many B.C.-based mineral explorers and junior miners have been operating in financial survival mode over the last year. Arguably, we have witnessed one of the worst junior venture capital markets in living memory, and the drought in financing exploration projects continues in 2013. Yet during the midst of this venture capital crisis, B.C.’s almost 1,000 publicly listed mineral exploration and mining companies still managed to raise $5.27 billion on the TSX and TSX-V markets in 2012 and were active exploring and developing mineral resources in over 100 countries around the world.
B.C.’s status as a global centre of excellence for mineral exploration and development was further evident at our annual conference, Mineral Exploration Roundup, during B.C’s annual Mineral Exploration Week from January 28 to 31, 2013. The theme of “Resources for Life: Digging Deeper” hit home as we welcomed over 7,800 participants from 44 countries. Roundup this year had a fantastic speaker line-up, as well as our Core Shack, Prospectors’ Tent and Map Tent displays. At the successful Gathering Place Aboriginal Pavilion we witnessed how industry, government and First Nations are working together to build a safe, economically strong and responsible industry that brings benefits to all British Columbians. AME’s Roundup 2014 conference is confirmed at the Westin Bayshore from January 27 – January 30, 2014. This will be the last Roundup conference to be held at the Bayshore as we plan for the successful transition of the conference to the Vancouver Convention Centre for 2015.
During Roundup 2013, AME welcomed Premier Christy Clark’s announcement that $680 million was spent on mineral exploration projects in British Columbia in 2012, a record for the province. These expenditures rose 47 per cent over the previous record-breaking $462 million spent in 2011. Commensurately, B.C.’s share of the total investment in mineral exploration in Canada has increased to an estimated 20%, up from 15%. As advocates for successful mineral exploration, AME is excited to see this trend of record numbers year over year. The challenges as we head into the 2013 exploration season, however, are to attract more investment to B.C.-based juniors and to encourage an increase in grassroots exploration and geoscience. Our industry can then convert these record exploration expenditures into new discoveries of economically feasible and multi-generational deposits that are developed safely in environmentally and socially responsible ways based on sound science and the sharing of facts.
Premier Clark also announced in January an additional $7 million to improve mineral exploration permitting, reduce needless red tape and help meet the government’s target of a 60-day turnaround period for Notice of Work applications. To date, many AME members have benefited from the original $24 million invested in key permitting agencies in 2011 as well as the introduction of multi-year and multi-area permitting. As well, the province announced a new transparent online application system for filing work permit applications through FrontCounter BC starting in April 2013. On March 8, AME acknowledged the provincial government’s decision to exempt low-impact activities from permit amendments when a Mines Act permit is already in place. Under regulation effective September 1, 2013, induced polarization geophysical surveys, exploration drill programs on producing mines and extensions of proposed exploration work for up to two years will be allowed to proceed with 30 days advance notice to the provincial government, without further permit approval or amendments required.
The federal budget was released on March 21 and AME was pleased that the federal government renewed the 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit. We expressed concern, however, that mine development expenses will no longer be 100% deductible as ‘Canadian Exploration Expenses’ (CEE). Instead they will now be treated as ‘Canadian Development Expenses’ (CDE) and be deductible at a rate of only 30%, which may make it more difficult to attract investment. We will continue to work with our partners at the PDAC to influence a change in this new policy. Along with advocating for such key incentives that promote economic development, AME has strongly supported the building of capacity in First Nation communities. On March 20, for example, our partners at the BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BC AMTA) reached a milestone of placing 500 men and women from First Nations communities across the province into sustainable mining-related careers. And new BC AMTA regional offices have opened up in Terrace and Merritt, to complement existing operations in Kamloops, Cranbrook and Williams Lake.
Mineral exploration and development employs tens of thousands of British Columbians throughout every region of the province. The industry is a foundational socio-economic driver in B.C., spurring responsible regional development, creating family sustaining jobs, enhancing infrastructure and increasing government revenue to offset B.C.’s health care and education costs. But as British Columbians competing in a global economy with other mineral-rich jurisdictions we must not rest on our laurels. As we head toward a provincial election on May 14, and as a non-partisan industry association advocating for a successful mineral exploration and development industry, AME has partnered with the Mining Association of B.C., the Mining Suppliers Association of B.C. and the Coal Association of Canada to inform the public and candidates for elected office about the importance of mineral exploration and mining. We must all strive to take the politics and misinformation out of discussions about the industry. As we know, B.C.’s prospectors and explorers discover the minerals, metals and coal that are essential in things that we all use every day. Your cellphone, bicycle, car and even your barbecue would not be possible without mineral exploration and development, and we must help others understand the importance of this reality.
As such, I encourage all AME members to visit www.votemining.ca
and whenever possible to ask your local election candidates about how they plan to support the continued growth and investment in our industry. No matter the jurisdiction or the outcome of the upcoming provincial election on May 14, to attract and sustain high levels of investment, an “open for business” culture must be nurtured, strategic investments made and public policies implemented in a consistent and transparent manner that enable responsible mineral exploration and development. If government, First Nations and industry continue to work together, mineral exploration and development will continue to play a key role in the B.C. economy for many years to come.
As leaders in promoting health and safety, AME hosted its 3rd annual Exploration Safety for Project Managers Workshop on March 22 and our 10th annual Introduction to Exploration Safety workshop on March 23. As a reminder, AME and the PDAC launched the 2012 Canadian Mineral Exploration Health & Safety Survey in February 2013 and I encourage you to complete the survey by clicking here. And to further our public outreach initiatives, AME participated in the 26th annual Kamloops Exploration Group conference held April 9 – 10 in Kamloops and we are actively attending many local government conferences this spring throughout BC as well as participating in the Minerals North conference in Terrace from April 24 – 26.
During this busy time of the year, I look forward to seeing many you at the upcoming BC Mining Week events to be held from April 28 – May 4, including the Community Fair hosted by MineralsEd and AME on May 1 at the Creekside Community Centre in False Creek. On May 10, AME will be hosting our next Speaker Series luncheon with keynote guest speaker Ned Goodman, President & CEO of Dundee Corporation. And don’t forget AME’s 21st annual charity golf tournament on May 21 at Mayfair Lakes Golf and Country Club in Richmond.
On behalf of the staff and board of AME, I thank the hundreds of volunteers and almost 5,000 members of the Association for their valuable support and contributions in making AME one of the best industry advocacy associations for mineral exploration and development in the world. Finally, please remember to have a safe day, every day, wherever this message finds you! And on May 14, vote for mineral exploration and development!
Gavin C. Dirom, M.Sc., P. Ag.
President & CEO
Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia