Spring is a natural time of renewal and summer is a time for growth. It’s fair to say that over the past few months, many members of AME have experienced the early signs of renewal and growth. This was particularly true for gold explorers and developers, as the spot price rose from about US$1230 on April 1 to US$1337 per ounce on July 15. This gold price increase is driving an upward trend in investor confidence to date. Correspondingly, several companies actively exploring and developing throughout BC were able to attract financing for their precious metals projects. Significantly, from April through June, companies active in BC reported more than $40 million in financing via government’s flow-through share tax incentive for individual investors. Along with general global economic and political uncertainty, precious metals received an additional boost following the “Brexit” referendum in the United Kingdom where 52 per cent of votes were cast on June 23 to leave the European Union. And according to a recent MiG report, $5.3 billion in equity capital has been raised through 738 financings in 2016 to the end of June by TSX and TSX-V listed mining companies. See MiG report at http://tsx.com/resource/en/1357. Given these clear and measurable indicators, AME is cautiously optimistic that the continued price increases for precious metals, as well as a recovery of base metal prices (zinc and copper in particular), will lead to a steady return of investment into BC’s locally and globally active mineral exploration and development industry.
This past spring, AME and staff from the Ministry of Energy of Mines worked effectively together to address members’ concerns related to the implementation of BC’s new Water Sustainability Act for the upcoming exploration field season. Further to these collaborative discussions with government, a regulatory amendment came into effect on April 15, 2016, which provides that holders of a permit under section 10 of the Mines Act are exempt in 2016 from the requirement to obtain a water use permit in relation to exploration activities provided they meet certain conditions and adhere to certain requirements. AME will be working to develop a similar exemption for 2017 and beyond through further engagement with members and government. As well, AME is actively assisting government through the Natural Resources Permitting Project to develop an application form that will be used for Notice of Work applications as well as any related permits through government agencies. We are hopeful that such an application will help streamline permit applications. AME has been collecting feedback on members’ experiences with Notice of Work applications in general, and will share these with government. And on May 18, the BC Government announced a further $5 million in funding toward Geoscience BC initiatives that attract mineral exploration investment to British Columbia through generating, interpreting and publicly distributing geoscience data.
Aboriginal Relations and Stakeholder Engagment:
AME’s Aboriginal Relations Committee planned the inaugural AME Gathering Place held at Minerals North 2016 in Smithers. Many attendees participated, along with a strong array of speakers from the exploration industry and aboriginal communities. AME continues to support such activities that build understanding and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships between Aboriginal people and the minerals industry in BC. Notably, there are many examples of positive agreements between mineral exploration and mining companies and First Nations. In fact, nearly 500 such agreements have been signed in Canada since 1974, of which 376 have been signed in the last decade according to Natural Resource Canada’s Intergovernmental Working Group on Minerals and Metals. Such agreements, together with active government consultation and industry engagement, have been important to the success of mineral exploration and development in BC and Canada. As leaders in promoting and building positive relationships through respectful and transparent engagement, AME is fully supportive of the many progressive and mutually beneficial agreements being negotiated and implemented between First Nations and mineral exploration and development companies in BC. For more information on building successful agreements and recommended practices, please see AME’s Aboriginal Engagement Guidebook at http://bit.ly/2a6mAEG.
Public Awareness, Stakeholder Education and Socially Responsible Exploration:
One of AME’s key priorities is to increase public awareness about the importance of mineral exploration and development to our modern society. Since 2011, AME has supported the public outreach efforts of regional exploration and mining groups active throughout the province. We were encouraged to see efforts in action during the Kamloops Exploration Group annual conference as well as at the Minerals North conference held in Smithers where hundreds of schoolchildren were actively learning about mineral exploration and development. Additionally, AME facilitated the Chamber of Mines of Eastern BC’s outreach activities at both the May Days festival in Kaslo and Castlegar Rock and Gem Show in southeastern BC and the Smithers Exploration Group’s efforts during the Main Street Festival in Smithers. With the upcoming May 2017 provincial election, AME is partnering again with the Mining Association of BC and the Mining Suppliers Association of BC on a Vote Mining campaign to raise public awareness and support for mineral exploration and mining among all candidates, regardless of political affiliation. Irrespective of the election outcome, BC will have a new minister responsible for mining. The Honourable Bill Bennett, BC’s Minister of Energy and Mines, a vocal and responsive champion of our industry for many years, will not be seeking re-election. AME will also be active in the federal government’s review of environmental assessment and permitting processes, as announced by the Government of Canada in June.
AME hosted its 24th annual Charity Golf Tournament on May 25, and 144 golfers enjoyed a sunny day at the University Golf Club in Vancouver. Proceeds from this fun event will benefit MineralsEd to support its mineral education programs designed for elementary and secondary schoolchildren. In June, AME released its Buyers Guide in the summer issue of Mineral Exploration. AME encourages its members to peruse the directory when considering new suppliers as well as when looking up useful contacts in government and other organizations that support mineral exploration and development. Notably, some of AME’s corporate members and their predecessors including ALS Minerals, Archer Cathro & Associates (1981) Limited, Klohn Crippen Berger Limited and Teck have been part of the Buyers Guide since its start in 1968 – a sign of the resilience of the industry.
Mineral Exploration Roundup:
Planning is underway for Roundup 2017, our 34th annual conference that will be held under the Canada Place sails January 23 to 26, 2017. The Roundup Organizing Committee chaired by Kendra Johnston has been developing a program with the theme “Gearing Up for Discovery”, and I welcome companies active in the mineral exploration and development industry to visit our website at www.amebc.ca/roundup for exhibitor and sponsor information.
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