AME and the BC-based mineral exploration and development industry has a proud history of meeting challenges head-on, finding new ways to solve issues and working creatively to develop lasting joint solutions through teamwork. We have many inherently natural qualities, including being realistic optimists, daring entrepreneurs, generous philanthropists and pragmatic problem-solvers. Innovation is in our DNA. It’s what members of AME do on a daily basis using creative thinking, sound science, technology and evidence-based approaches.
AME’s Governance & Financial Affairs:
Congratulations to the new Directors of the Board and thank you to all the candidates who put their names forward and the hundreds of members that voted. Newly elected or appointed AME Directors are ‘Lyn Anglin, Scott Broughton, David Gale, Robin Junger, Richard LeBourdais, Robert McLeod, John Murray, Jill Pardoe, Robert Stevens, Bruce Scott, Bruce Sprague and Jill Tsolinas. And congratulations as well to our new Chair, Diane Nicolson and special thanks to David McLelland for serving in that role for 2014 & 2015. For a full listing of the Board of Directors, please see http://www.amebc.ca/about-us/board-of-directors.
While staying committed to our 5-year Strategic Plan, AME has reduced its annual budget for this fiscal year, which ends August 31, 2016. AME’s budget restraint plan includes downsizing staff and staff-related activities and cutting back on administrative overhead, travel, consultants and sponsorships. The restraint plan maintains AME’s strategic core operations and critical advocacy activities related to land access and use, aboriginal engagement, regional outreach, government relations, and advocating for tax incentives and access to investment capital.
Federally, on March 23 AME welcomed incentives announced in the 2016 federal budget that assist mineral explorers and developers in BC. Incentives included continuing the 15% Mineral Exploration Tax Credit, committing to including environmental and community consultation costs as Canadian Exploration Expense as well as investing in geoscience and mineral research through Natural Resources Canada. See AME’s release: http://bit.ly/1WnSBbE.
In January, AME launched its report about land access and use, Framing the Future of Mineral Exploration in British Columbia. The report, which was prepared by environmental consultant firm Hemmera, found what many in this industry have long known: access for mineral exploration has decreased in BC and is reaching a critical threshold that threatens the long-term survival of the industry; and by extension, the jobs, families and communities that rely on it. Through 2016, AME is committed to working on land access and issues with government, as well as advocating on our membership’s behalf on permitting and environmental assessment, transboundary relations with Alaska and public geoscience policy issues. Government’s leadership on these issues is instrumental to successful exploration, enabling exciting discoveries and ultimately the development of future mines in BC.
Aboriginal Relations and Engagement:
Aboriginal relations and engagement have been important to AME members for a long time now. In January, we were pleased to host AME’s Gathering Place for the fourth consecutive year, and hosted the inaugural Aboriginal Investment Reception as well. Through improved mutual understanding, we create meaningful opportunities to build and share trust, respect and benefits.
AME has always supported the important and complex work of reconciling, respecting and balancing interests between the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the Government of British Columbia, as well as with all the other First Nations in BC. Our initial assessment of the Nenqay Deni Accord, though, raises significant concerns for the mineral exploration industry, especially in regard to the rights of existing and future mineral tenure holders and investors in sub-surface mineral resources on public land. The Accord signed on February 12, 2016 between the province and the Tsilhqot’in National Government is an important and potentially precedent-setting agreement that may have major implications to broader public and third-party interests within a large area (estimated to be 66,000 square kilometres) of public lands. AME was not consulted during the development of the Accord, and AME’s Board of Directors has since created a task force to better understand the implications of the Accord and to communicate AME’s concerns and recommendations to the Tsilhqot’in Nation, government officials, AME members and other stakeholders. For more information, see http://www.amebc.ca/media/core-matters.
Public Awareness, Stakeholder Education and Socially Responsible Exploration:
AME’s second annual Discovery Day, held on January 24, was a resounding success, and we continued to host Rockhound elementary and secondary school students at Roundup too. Socially responsible exploration was the theme of a short course and Show Case session at Roundup 2016, and AME’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee will continue to develop learning events and community of practice sessions through 2016. AME also continued its tradition of hosting an annual safety workshop on April 2. As well, AME and the PDAC are partners in the annual environment, health and safety survey for all exploration in Canada. I encourage you to visit www.explorationsurvey.ca to fill out the survey about your 2015 programs.
AME opened the TSX markets on January 13 with the Honourable Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, corporate members, sponsors and representative members of the industry. Following the market opening, an interactive lunchtime session featuring Minister Bennett was held. For more information, see link at: http://www.amebc.ca/media/news-releases/ame-bc-opens-toronto-stock-exchange.
The Membership Liaison Committee forwarded a survey and the Top Policy Issues draft paper to the membership during December and January 2016. The paper was also made available at the AME Core Issues Update and Government Industry sessions at Roundup. We received many responses – thank you for your feedback and suggestions. And you will notice in this message that AME has a new fresh look! We are very excited to reveal our updated brand that conveys how strong, professional, and open AME is. Check your inbox for more on our new modern look in the coming weeks.
Mineral Exploration Roundup:
AME’s Mineral Exploration Roundup 2016 conference was a success thanks to the efforts of the volunteer Roundup Organizing Committee chaired by Kendra Johnston, AME staff, and our sponsors. More than 5,400 people from 33 countries participated, and the exhibit hall, technical sessions, show case sessions and networking events were all very well attended. Mark your calendars for Roundup 2017, to be held January 23-26, 2017, once again under the Canada Place sails at Vancouver Convention Centre East.
On behalf of the staff and the Board of AME, I thank the hundreds of dedicated volunteers and thousands of members of the Association for their valuable support and contributions. I wish you the very best in 2016 and that you have a safe day, every day, wherever this quarterly message finds you!
Gavin C. Dirom, M.Sc., P. Ag.
President & CEO
Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia